Interview with the Head of the Department of Family, Women and Children issues of the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Lala Ghazaryan.
Who is the author of the law “On Domestic Violence” and when it was introduced?
The work with the document has a long history. The draft has been developed by the initiative of the NGO “Women’s Rights Center” in 2006-2007. The working group of experts worked on the draft. Since then the draft has been amended and edited many times.
In January of 2011 it was created the Interagency Working Group which has been working on the draft law during a year. The draft law was submitted to the Government in June of 2012. The document has been discussed and sent back with the recommendation to make amendments in the adjacent legislation. To implement the Government’s recommendation it was developed a legislative package which includes changes and amendments in number of laws including the Law on Police, Law on Administrative offences, Criminal Code, Administrative Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code.
If all these laws are not amended, the law “On Domestic violence” will not be applied in case of adoption.
Why the acting laws do not regulate the issue and there is a need for a separate law?
There is a need for a separate law to regulate the whole field. Different laws regulate different aspects. However there is a need for a holistic approach and mechanisms which are not in place.
The draft law «On Domestic Violence» regulates the legal relations concerning the domestic violence, defines the notion «domestic violence», bodies having powers in the prevention of domestic violence, financial sources for these bodies, specific measures and types of prevention of the domestic violence, grounds for their application and protection of family members while the application, the accountability for perpetrators.
Which agencies are entitled to prevent the domestic violence and support the victims according to the draft law?
The law provides that the RA Police, courts, Prosecutor's Office, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Health Care, State Migration Service, Guardianship and Trusteeship bodies, Bodies providing support to the victims of domestic violence, counseling centers, psychological assistance centers, shelters for victims of domestic violence, social service agencies, state and local self-government bodies are obliged to support domestic violence prevention and provide with assistance.
Powers and functions of each body are defined in the Articles of the law. The financial sources for these bodies are also mentioned in the law.
Which kind of preventive and supporting mechanisms missing in the current legislation are provided?
The law provides the following special preventive mechanisms: official notification, emergency intervention and official decision. The law also defines when and how these functions have to be implemented, it also defines when and how the perpetrator should be registered for preventive purposes and when should be struck off the registration. The special mechanisms could be applied in the case of continuous violence. Application and revocation of the mechanisms is defined by the law.
Is there an official statistics on the overall situation with domestic violence in Armenia?
In 2008-2009 by the support of the UN Population Fund the RA National Statistical Service has conducted the first survey concerning the domestic violence against women in Armenia. The statistics shows that 61 % of interviewed women who had a partner in their life were subjected to the controlling behavior, 25 % faced the psychological violence, 8.9% were subjected to the physical violence, 3.3% were subjected to the sexual violence and 9.5 % were simultaneously subjected to physical and sexual violence.
Interview by Mary Alexanyan
This data proves that the issue is there and it requires special attention. The Armenian Government is taking measures for regulation of this issue.
Which legislative acts were adopted in this field in the recent years?
In 2010 the Gender Policy Concept has been adopted. The same year it was created the Interagency Commission against Gender Violence. In 2011 the National Program against Gender Violence and Strategic Program for 2011-2015 have been adopted. Adoption of the law “On Domestic violence” is one of the actions included in the Strategic Program under the annual events program for 2012.
The law is also complies with the obligations and provisions of the international treaties and conventions ratified by Armenia. Core documents are: UN Convention on Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, Recommendations of the Fourth Beijing World Forum (1995), Documents of the Council of Europe Commission on legal equality between men and women, UN Millennium Declaration, Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
At which stage is now the draft law on «Domestic Violence»?
The draft law has been discussed jointly with different agencies. On November 13 we will organize a public hearing. Afterwards the draft will be edited based on the presented suggestions and the final draft will be submitted to the Government.
Our Government has a very serious approach to this issue and I believe that important steps were taken to regulate the situation with domestic violence in the country.
Actually the draft law exists for seven years. Why it has not been adopted so far?
I have already mentioned that the law has a long history and the initial draft has been significantly modified; only the title remained.
It is essential and very laborious document; it could be edited as much as the work continues. It is linked with the functions of different agencies: court, Prosecutor’s Office, police, community etc and their powers should be clearly defined to avoid contradictions.
I think we are not late.
Are there opponent of the law?
There are people who say that we do not need such a law and this field is regulated by certain laws. There are different opinions both among state and public figures. I do not want to give the names: these are opinions and I respect all of them. However today, as the authorized body, we believe that there is a need for this law, it is welcomed and the Government gives the green light for regulation of these issues. If there was no appropriate support from the Government and the issue has not been prioritized, that would be difficult to achieve a success.
Those who are against the initiative will change their attitude in future because the violence restricts human rights and freedoms and it is the biggest evil which should be denied and should not be tolerated by the society.
There is an opinion that the law will not bring the changes to the situation because the perception of the domestic violence in the society has not been changed
In all cases, if the mechanism are created and the perpetrator see that he/she will be punished and the member of his/her family are not their property, that he/she cannot solve the problems with the fist, beating, insult, disrespectful treatment, he/she will understand that it is necessary to change.
In many cases woman who was subjected to violence does not apply to the law enforcement bodies for different reasons. Was it taken into consideration while the draft has been developed?
Definitely. Under this law the crime report is not mandatory. If there is an alarm or beaten woman is noticed, authorized bodies should examine the situation and take appropriate measures.
To resume, in your opinion what are the reasons for domestic violence in Armenia?
The reasons are different but I think that first of all it is a lack of education and proper perception regarding the issue. If an individual understands that the insult, slap, beating, intimidation are negative that will not happen.
Human relationships are impossible without conflicts, without flares, clarifications. However the issues have to be solved through a dialogue, without humiliation, pain infliction, without fist and intimidation.
Domestic violence sometimes occurs on the social grounds.
Any violence is inadmissible and we expect that the adoption of the law “On domestic violence” will contribute to the prevention of the domestic violence and protection and support for the victims of the domestic violence.