About my life in Armenia, about being a mom and an activist, working for women's rights.
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Yes to Violence Against Women...No to Preventing Assault and offering help!

It's funny how people tend to automatically criticize us and try to silence us when we start talking about violence against women in Armenia (and in lots of other places, i am assuming it is the same!). Last year, I remember when we were planning our march to stop violence against women for november 25, the city mayor's office demanded from us that we bring them written proof that there is violence against women in Armenia in order to give us the permit for public action. Their main goal was to persuade us that we were fighting for a cause that did not exist in Armenia. This year, we wanted to post on billboards around the city an ad stating that "sexual violence is a crime" and you can get help by calling the hotline and the city gave us again lots of trouble, refusing to give us permission to put this ad.

"Sexual assault is a crime, free confidential hotline" (not authorized by the city mayor office)

First they stated that even though we were not violating any advertising or city laws, they were not finding this ad "morally" good for the population. Then they stated that "when a girl is raped, then what, already her life ends...what can you do more for her, it's finished, so why advertise help?". Then when we insisted, they accused us of creating fear among the population and that we were terrorizing women and preventing them to go outside, that this banner was offensive. Today, we are still fighting to get our message out in the public and voice our concerns. while the State with all its institutions, is trying to ignore the problem and put all kind of obstacles to make us shut up.

Meanwhile the calls on the Sexual Assault Crisis Center are increasing every month. Women, girls are calling asking for help. Sometimes all it takes to help is to acknowledge the problem, to say to the victim that "no it was not your fault" while most people are ready to blame them. When will we stop accusing women of not being in the right place, not wearing the proper dress or for staying too long out at night?

And sometimes, young women like G.K very courageously try to break this unbearable silence and talk about it. This time the perpetrator is a police officer who used his power took advantage of his position to intimidate the young girl and sexually assault her in a Yerevan public park:

"May 9th is a holiday for many citizens of our country, but for me it is a day full of sad memories which make me shiver until today. I decided to write about this day when during the PR campaign of the Sexual Assault Center I heard many negative opinions, saying: "What are you so worried about? There is no violence against women in Armenia." I am one of the people responsible for this... because I was silent.   
...he(police officer) didn't believe us and decided to make sure of it himself by trying to check if I was "pure"(virgin) by touching my body in its most intimate places. Because of my lack of knowledge of the rules and my rights well enough I let him humiliate me in front of my boyfriend. My boyfriend was way too scared. He only kept insisting that nothing happened. And I let the officer do whatever he was doing just to keep out of trouble. He was stupid enough to believe that fluids are a sign of missing virginity and now sure that his suspicions were right, he asked my boyfriend to let him talk to me alone. He took me a few meters away. I made sure that my boyfriend was never out of sight. One more time he touched different parts of my body and with the same obscene voice he pronounced the following sentence, which I will never forget: "Honey, we can solve this issue very easily. You just can't tell your boyfriend anything about it." , read more here and in Armenian here.

The only way things will start to change when people start talking about it, denouncing it and not only women, this is everyone's responsibility and it affects us all!

-cognac ad (authorized by the city)

Meanwhile, the city of Yerevan finds it ok and "moral" to have half naked women to advertise vodka and cognac everywhere in the city, but it is a big no for advertising help for victims of violence in our society. What is the message here that women are getting? Which of these photos is offensive in your opinion?

1 comment:

  1. This is troubling, though sadly not surprising. What is the call to action here? Should more women to forced to witness to their abuse before the city allows your message to get out?