I am 10 months old and all in all I know this world for 1.5 year, but I have learnt and understood lots of things in my life. The reason is simple- my mom is not indifferent to what’s going on around her and you would come across me and her expressing our civic position during this or that action of protest.
My mother is Lara Aharonyan, director of Women’s Resource Center NGO in Armenia, and I am Eprat Niziblyan, her fourth child, who is always willing to send you a smile if you decide to take part in those actions.
Therefore, I am aware of various unfortunate events and I understand that mourning and covering those cases up is not a solution. So I want to tell you my political standpoint.
I was not even born when I learnt that Zaruhi Petrosyan’s husband Yanis Sarkisov had beaten his wife to death. My mother united with another 6 organizations creating "Women’s Alliance" civil initiative. They struggled to make Sarkisov serve the deserved punishment.
Ararat and Vayots Dzor Districts Court of First Instance pled Sarkisov guilty for depriving his 20 years old wife Zaruhi Petrosyan of life (RA Criminal Code, article 112 part 2 point 14 if caused the death of the aggrieved by negligence, is punished with imprisonment for the term of 5 to 10 years) and sentenced to the maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment. The Court of Cassation upheld this decision.
Zahuhi’s child is under the guardianship of Sarkisov’s mother, but we visit her regularly and keep an eye on the safety of the child, who is a toddler like me.
Unfortunately, the cases of violence continue to occur, and the latest case that shocked us was the case of violence against Mariam Gevorgyan and M.B. during their marriage. A criminal case was launched on the incident and the main accused is the mother-in-law Haykanush Mikayelyan. Davit Ziroyan’s first and second wives accuse him and his mother of unbearable tortures.
Now you’ll think, how comes that a toddler masters this legal knowledge, if he is only 10 months old and is not educated. It’s not possible to forget these numbers and articles, because that is what I heard most in 2011.
Besides I gained the legal knowledge in various seminars and legal trainings, as well as making amendments to the laws.
I was not yet born, when my mom and many Armenian women were struggling in front of the RA President’s residence against the law on “Temporary Disability Benefits”, which cut the benefit payment of prenatal and maternity leave as well as temporary disability benefits.
I understood that when you fight for something and your struggle comes from the protection of human rights you are sure to win, because my mother’s and other women’s opinion was taken into consideration.
Probably we will celebrate the next victory in the National Assembly, as this year we developped amendments to RA Criminal Code Chapter on Crimes against sexual immunity and sexual freedom.
Years ago teacher of Nubarashen number 11 special school was sentenced to only 2 years of imprisonment, when he was accused of Lecherous acts against the minors. (RA Criminal Code Article 142)
According to amendments, that were passed by the first reading in the NA the same Article proscribes 10-15 years of imprisonment. The provision on the release for the fine are eliminated as well as the provision that said that if the sexual relations were allowed by the minor, the opposite side is not responsible.
The RA Government also took the women’s opinion into consideration and the “Armenian Interdepartmental Commission against Gender Based Violations” was established to struggle against gender discrimination. Within the frameworks of that the 2011-2016 plan was developed as a result of which from 2012 certain action will be carried out both in the regions and Yerevan, special educational programs will be included, the police officers will be trained.
Lately, I have been traveling a lot with my mom, we have been to Turkey, Montenegro and Georgia where many people and officials from various countries, who deal with Women’s Rights were gathered.
So I realized that in the Balkan Countries and Africa women are less protected than in Armenia, but this doesn’t mean that they do not struggle and that there is nothing to learn from them.
For instance, in Liberia the women stopped the civil war of the 90s and for the first time in the history the female candidate-72 years old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, became the President. And it is interesting that the great number of women is not educated in this country, there are people who do not know to read and write.
In Montenegro it was very interesting to get acquainted with those people who organized a march with women in black dresses, who raised the issues of those women, who are victims of sexual violation during the war.
My mother participated to such a march in Armenia when the mothers of servicemen, who died in the army, demanded the punishment of the guilty. My mother stood next to the women dressed in black.
I am particularly interested in the policemen during various demonstrations. I guess they are ordinary people, as apart from making angry faces and being rude, they sometimes smile looking at me and try to talk. I hope that when I grow up, they will remember me and will continue to smile to me and treat me the same way they do now.
Very often, people ask my mother why she takes me with her to work, and I do not stay at home to play with my toys and watch cartoons. My mother always answers that: “It is a part of my children’s education, because the child starts to understand what is justice and what it means to struggle for justice so the child grows up to become an active and conscious member of the civil society.
Sometimes it is cold, there is crush and scream at times, but I never cry, because I know that my mom is nearby and is always ready to protect me and whatever we do together we do it first of all for my future.