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Women’s Rights Activists Blame Police Indifference for Domestic Violence Victims’ Deaths

Over the first 10 months of 2016, the number of reported cases of domestic abuse in Armenia has grown significantly compared with the same period last year, Marine Yeghiazaryan, a psychologist with the Women's Rights Center (WRC) NGO, said in a press conference on Friday. The non-profits Yerevan hotline, according to the speaker, received a total of 1574 phone calls in the above-mentioned period, 1272 of which were reports of domestic violence; 50% of the calls related to cases of physical violence, 48% of the calls – to psychological abuse, and 2% were reports of sexual abuse.

The WRC regional hotline, meanwhile, received 2125 calls, including 1816 domestic violence-related ones. This, Yeghiazaryan told reporters, also shows that domestic abuse rates have grown over the country in the last year.

Over the period 2010-15, 35 women were killed as a result of domestic violence in Armenia, Society Without Violence NGO head Lida Minasyan told reporters, adding that this year domestic and gender-based violence has caused the death of 7 women.

“These deaths are the consequences of society's and state institutions' – namely, police – indifference. Each of these battered and tortured women has turned to the police at least once, but they were either told to go back and deal with their problems themselves, or were shamed into taking back their report,” Minasyan said.

Women's Support Center representative Hasmik Gevorgyan, for her part, stressed that victims of domestic violence in Armenia do not have a state-level support system, despite the existence of a law for social support. 

The speakers also commented on the attitude of the Ministry of Justice toward the adoption of a law on domestic violence. “The Armenian government has an international obligation to adopt a domestic violence law, which, state officials claim, is currently being drafted. Authorities, however, have to include civil society representatives in the discussion process, which they've been refusing to do,” Lida Minasyan said, expressing the concern that the drafters' theoretical knowledge about domestic violence would hardly be enough to develop a comprehensive and functional law.

“Public organizations have quite a rich experiences to share, but the state does not want to put it to work,” Hasmik Gevorgyan added.

Pictured – "Do not ignore domestic abuse; your silence can cause a life."