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Women's Human Rights Work in Armenia

Despite economic and societal challenges in the transition to a market economy, women in Armenia, a country of 3 million people located in Central Asia, are increasingly active in all aspects of society. During Armenia’s post-transition years, a number of non-governmental organizations have been started which are run by women and are dedicated to improving the lives of Armenian women. Although the Armenian Constitution provides for equal rights for both men and women, specific laws to combat domestic violence and sexual harassment do not exist as yet.  In 2000, The Advocates for Human Rights published a report on domestic violence in Armenia.

For a number of years, The Advocates has partnered with an NGO located in Yerevan, the Women’s Rights Center (WRC), as it works to draft and implement a law against domestic violence.  A working group, consisting of representatives of the police, government ministries, judges, and NGOs has been created to draft the new law. The WRC has organized a roundtable discussion and a public hearing to support the new law.  To read more about the work in Armenia on the proposed law, click here.  The Advocates has continued to provided Commentary on the Armenian Draft Law on Domestic Violence for this working group as they consider evolving drafts of the law.

In response to The Advocates’ Commentaries, critical language such as “provocative behavior” by the victim and “official warnings” to the perpetrator has been removed, and other key language has been added, such as the addition of “intimate partners” as a class of individuals to whom the law will apply.  The Advocates also prepared training materials on advocacy and lobbying for the law.

In June of 2008, The Advocates sent a team of three to Armenia for meetings with the working group and other individuals involved in drafting, advocating for, and lobbying for the new draft domestic violence law.  The Advocates shared international best practices on domestic violence legal reform and discussed advocacy and lobbying strategies and techniques.  The Advocates also conducted a practice parliamentary hearing at which participants prepared for likely questions and arguments from elected officials.

The Advocates remains involved in consulting with working group members as the law evolves, and all parties are optimistic that a law which upholds the principles of victim safety and offender accountability will soon be in force.

For more information about Armenia, visit the country page on www.stopvaw.org, written by our partner in Armenia, the Women's Rights Center.