Murder led to campaign against violence in the home
More than a year has passed since 20 year old Zaruhi Petrosyan was beaten to death by her husband and mother-in-law in the town of Masis in Armenia. The violent act led to the founding of the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Women – a gathering of Armenian organizations who want to shed light on the ongoing violence against women in Armenian homes and put pressure on the government and the legal system in the country.
Earlier this year Zaruhi Petrosyans killer was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
- Of course we´re happy for the verdict, but the coalition continues its important work. Violence in the home is very common in Armenia, but shrouded in strict social taboos, says Anna Nikoghosyan from the Armenian organization Society Without Violence, which initiated the founding of the coalition.
According to Anna Nikoghosyan, violence in the home is seldom discussed publicly in her country.
- Many people just deny that it exists. And of those who admit that it takes place, the majority regard it as a private family matter and nothing for the society to interfere in. But the violence clearly exists, all too much. Through the coalition we want to make it more visible and show the government, the courts and the general public that we won´t just stand by and watch when perpetrators walk away with mild sentences, she says.
Beating considered manly
- There is a widespread culture of violence in Armenia. To beat your wife is considered manly and good. Often it´s more respected to hit than not, especially in rural areas, says Mamikon Hovsepyan from PINK Armenia, another organization in the coalition.
A study from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 2011 shows that 25 per cent of the women in Armenia have been subjected to violence or abuse in their homes and 9,5 per cent have been subjected to physichal and/or sexual violence. And according to another 2011´s study, from Society Without Violence, 43,7 per cent of the population says that if a woman is being beaten by her husband she has probably provoked him to do it.
The year that has passed since Zaruhi Petrosyan was killed, the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Women has actively participated in her murderer´s trial. They have also organized manifestations, memorial demonstartions and have held a course for Armenian journalists on violence against women in the home.
- Generally very little is written about violence in the home and if there are any reports it´s not uncommon that the victims are being exposed. Naturally media has a very important part to play in making the general public aware of the issue, says Anna Nikoghosyan.
In mid-October the sentence for Zaruhi Petrosyan´s killer was announced: 10 years in prison.
- It feels good. But we mustn´t forget that the highlighting of Zaruhi´s case has been the first step in our struggle to end violence against women. We will keep on fighting and let other cases be known, says Anna Nikoghosyan.
The coalition´s plans for next year includes a further expansion of their network.
- And also, Petrosyan´s mother-in-law is still walking free and she has custody of Zaruhi´s children. We have contacted a child rights organization that we hope will be able to help us with that, says Mamikon Hovsepyan.
Lovisa Häckner Posse
Updated in: 2013-03-22