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Suspect’s Relatives Stalk Czech Sexual Harassment Victim in Armenia

The case of Czech citizen Eva Y. against Armen F. on sexual violence allegations has commenced in General Jurisdiction Court of first instance of Lori Marz. The applicant claims that she was victim of sexual harassment in Gugark village on March 1, while she was riding a bike home to Vanadzor,  where she resides for one year volunteering in a local human rights organization.

The accused F. pleaded not guilty and demanded  to close the courtroom to the public. The defence lawyer argued: “My defendant has a family, a spouse and an infant. If there is an official accusation, doesn’t mean he has to be shamed”. The Judge Suren Baghdasaryan said  that the case will be closed only during the examination of facts. However, the details of the case had been already made public by the Police and appeared in many newspapers. The applicant talked to Epress.am and voiced her concerns about this and other inappropriate conduct taken by the Police officers during the pretrial phase of the case.

“There was a big unprofessionality in the Gugark Police station which gave my personal data and they published the data in many newspapers of Armenia; my name, my age, my citizenship, even the address where I live, which was super shocking for me. Cases of sexual violence should to be treated very specifically and they just gave all the information, detailed description of what happened. The police is not able to work with the victims, they don’t have any sensitivity towards the woman. I feel like there is no empathy towards me”, she said.

The woman claims that  she was exposed to unprofessional conduct during the forensic examination, too. The doctor allegedly implied that the woman must have provoked the abuser and actually had known him for a while.

“The doctor was asking me: “So how long do you know this guy?”. I said, I don’t know him, he just attacked me. And you shouldn’t ask these questions. You have the description,  you just measure my bruises and write down what you should”, said E.

There was a  solidarity action in front of the Court building organized by feminists activists. They were spreading leaflets with the following content:

“Many of us have encountered for numerous times attempts of rape or sexual harassment. We have talked about it or kept silent, we have turned to police or tried to forget it, but it continues over and over. We live in this swamp for centuries and often do not realize that this is not the way it should be.

Especially when a woman decides to travel on her own, she is subjected to various forms of sexual harassment and assault at every turn. Men we know and those we don’t, such as taxi drivers, men who pick up women hitchhikers or random men on the street, harass us over and over again by imposing their desire of sex without any respect for our own goals and desires, masturbate in front of us, touch our body without our consent. What makes things worse is that  our society refuses to believe the person who was subjected to violence and even refuses to help her. They prefer to believe in the myth that Armenia is a safe place for everyone. Even when women have enough courage to raise the issue, we face the second trauma – victim blaming.

One of us made a brave decision to appeal to the court and make this issue public. She faced the attempt of rape and violent sexual actions while she was biking through village Gugark nearby Vanadzor on 1st March 2018. Moreover, the law enforcement system disclosed the confidential information related to the victim through a website subserving the interests of police and making sensational publicity. Our struggles are not only against perpetrators in the streets and homes, but also against those in the legal system.

On Friday, May 11, the first court hearing took place. The next hearing is scheduled on May 31, 11:30 and it will take place in the Lori General Jurisdiction Court of First Instance in Vanadzor. This is the issue of all of us. It shouldn’t be silenced any more. We call all women to join us.

Violence is VIOLENCE regardless of what I am wearing, at what time I am outdoors, for whatever I am outside, regardless of whatever is understood as “provocation””.