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“The law saved me …”

Armenia adopted the law on domestic violence in 2017, and many remember that it had been hotly debated prior to its adoption. There was a serious backlash against the law, with opponents arguing that such a law in Armenia should not pose a threat to the traditional Armenian family… They have long argued about what they mean by saying a traditional Armenian family, and whether tolerating violence is one of the characteristics of a traditional family… Surveys indicate that Armenian society tends to justify domestic violence, suffice it only to note that 35.7% of respondents agreed “Woman should tolerate violence for family protection” and 27.7% believe that “women are beaten in some cases”… (“Men and Gender Equality in Armenia” Sociological Survey, UN Population Fund, 2016). Proponents of the law have argued that if it can save at least one woman’s life, then the law is needed … However, the law was eventually adopted and a compromise was issued in its name: “Preventing Domestic Violence, Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence, and Restoring Family Solidarity.” law … our story is about a woman whom the law really helped her get rid of the nightmare of many years.

 

… Few can imagine that even the most courageous, active, vibrant women, at first glance, pass through the walls of their homes into hell. Mary is one of those women –  an expert in her career who has a good career and is loved by the work team and friends, a happy and beautiful woman. But, she says, domestic violence is such a humiliating, degrading, so overwhelming thing that you prefer to keep quiet because you don’t know you are so weak, and most importantly, you think you will change, thinking about the kids and everything gets worse. During that 12-year “life”, all stages have passed: suicide attempts, plans to hang out on the balcony, sleepless nights. Now, out of that nightmare, a brave woman, almost out of life, says, ‘The place of the abuser is in prison.

 

“One of the hundreds of abusers living in our country took 12 years of my life. During the first days of my marriage, I was introduced to the rules of their ” traditional family “: you pay your mother-in-law, she manages the family budget, you report plans to leave home at least one day in advance, as it should be discussed in a “family meeting,” coming to her mother’s home. Say you can’t say ‘I want to go to my sister’s house tomorrow’, you have to say ‘will you let me go to my sister’s house’, she’ll tell you how many times you go, how many you come back to, if you let her of course, everything you ask through the “three-tier system”, first to the husband, then to the second-degree counselor, the father-in-law, then to the upper court, the father-in-law. Before you say every word in the presence of your mother-in-law, you measure a thousand, then cut, “she recalls.

 

After the birth of the baby, the situation has not changed for the better, but on the contrary, Mary is completely cut off from the outside world. She first attempted to escape when the child was 6 months old, but her mother, from a traditional family, persuaded her to return…

 

Salvation was in the mortgage program, with Mariam being able to invest in it for many years, with the money pinned down. Divorce was no longer a matter of time. But before that one more terrifying ordeal she had to overcome – the next beating, when her husband hit the target in the brain, the knee, ended in fainting, and then the hospital.

 

“My parents realized that they could lose me irrevocably, because at least one head injury could be fatal. Immediately after being discharged from the hospital, I went to the police station, and hours later I learned from a separate unit of domestic violence that the “man” had confessed that he was sorry for what he had done and asked not to prosecute him. He was recognized as violent, determined to take immediate action to prevent me or my children from coming to work, to make a call, or to attempt to make contact, at least within a 100-meter radius. In the past, I have heard many cases of women being subjected to domestic violence in the same police force, how they were mocked and sent home. The existence of the law The day-to-day control of the police, from escorting me to picking me up to driving home, was just a salvation in those painful and stressful days. Now I live with my children every day, surrounded by mutual love. My dreams lie ahead, followed by the experience I have gained since it took me 12 years…. ”

 

Mariam is grateful to all those who advocated the introduction of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence in Armenia. According to her, if this law has contributed to the affirmation of at least one woman, one child, and the right to live without violence, then it serves its purpose.

 

 

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