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Concerns Around Domestic Violence Prevention Bill ‘Unjustified,’ Experts Say

Since 2005, the Guardianship and Trusteeship Committee in Armenia has had the right to deprive parents of parental rights, Arshak Gasparyan, chairman of the Children’s Protection Network, said on Wednesday during a press conference in Yerevan entitled “Child Protection in the Draft Law on “Prevention of Domestic Violence””.

According to the speaker, the discussions that have been unfolding in recent days around the draft law, and particularly the concerns about the possibility to deprive children of their families with the help of this law, are unjustified and based solely on instinct.

Note, those opposing the law have been arguing that the draft “drawn on the basis of the European model will eventually destroy ‘the Armenian family’ and will result in children being taken away from their families.”

“The child protection system in Armenia, which was introduced in 2005, is three-level. To this day, in accordance with government-approved regulations, the guardianship and trusteeship body has had the right to evaluate each parent. If the parent evades the upbringing of the child or can have a negative impact on it, the Guardianship and Trusteeship Committee can isolate the child from the parent for up to 7 days,” Gasparyan said.

Aida Muradyan, the World Vision Child Protection and Education Program Manager, for her part, stressed that “every provision in the draft law on domestic violence is quite logical, while the concerns revolving around might have arisen from unawareness.”

“This draft law has three objectives. First, to create legal basis for providing physical, legal, social and psychological protection to persons who have been subjected to domestic violence. Secondly, to regulate the activities of relevant structures and, finally, to create mechanisms that will improve the unhealthy atmosphere in families,” she noted.

According to Muradyan, in the current legislation there are no official warnings, mechanisms of urgent interference and protective solutions. In the latter case, a person who has been subjected to violence may be held in a shelter.

Mira Antonyan, the Executive Director of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) Children Support Center, considers the adoption of the law very important. At the same time, however, Antonyan does not believe the law will have the power to encourage women to speak out about domestic abuse.

“I don’t think the law will make these women more courageous or provide them with self-defense mechanisms. I myself have issues with this law because it continues to punish the victim further by inertia. Protection mechanisms are classified in such a way that if no remedy helps, the victim is taken to a shelter. Why not remove the abuser from the family instead? Why let him continue to live in the same house and use violence against other family members if he can be taken to a shelter himself?” Antonyan argued.