On May 8, 2020, the Parliament ratified Council of Europe Convention on “Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse” with 79 votes for, 12 against, 0 abstaining.
The convention was drafted in 2007 and became operable in 2010 with 47 signing it of which 44 also ratified it. Armenia signed the Convention on September 29, 2010. It serves as a comprehensive instrument for preventing sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, protection of victims, proper investigation of such cases, awareness raising and cooperation.
By ratifying the Convention, Armenia committed to a number of legal commitments, including adoption of legislative, logistic, policy-based measures, adoption of uniform standards and definitions, development and implementation of appropriate measures in the educational, health care, social services, legal and judicial bodies in relation to effectively combating child molestation and sexual abuse.
The Convention was under deliberations on May 8, the day of the scandalous brawl. Prosperous Armenia Party was the main force “questioning” the Convention. MP Gevorg Petrosyan made a speech and focused on the sexual education component of the Convention by which states are committed to taking measures to educate children of elementary and middle school age about sexual abuse threats and self-defense from them. He believes that this kind of education is a threat in itself. “Children just separated from milk and fairy tales” should not learn to protect themselves from sexual abuse, because this is contradicting “our national mentality.” To back up her colleague, Naira Zohrabyan of the same party, Chairperson of the Human Rights Standing Committee, simply suggested to sterilize child molesters.
Today, during the second hearing of the ratification of the Convention, Gevorg Petrosyan took the floor for a point of order, however spoke of the Convention reminding that it “reasonably puts the interests of child upbringing under threat.” According to Petrosyan, the Armenian Apostolic Church is also against it. “I received many concerns from the Apostolic Church yesterday, they are all against this Convention.”
Lilit Makunts, head of the “My Step” fraction of the parliament reacted to Petrosyan’s remarks reminding that the Human Rights committee discussed it earlier and Prosperous Armenia had no objections. “I am sorry that certain people have the power to impact your position and change it. The Convention stems from the interests of children and it will prevent child molestation in Armenia,” said Makunts.
In parallel to the deliberation in the Parliament, “Kamq” ultraconservative group’s members that have been long fighting against the Convention preventing violence against women and domestic violence, were protesting against the child protection convention. They were standing at the Parliament entrance shaming MPs for greenlighting the legislation protecting children from sexual exploitation. “Shame on you, don’t you have children, family?” were shouting the defenders of national values.