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“Violence against children is not our tradition”

Today, the parliament ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Violence with 79 votes for and 14 against. The Convention was adopted on October 25, 2007 in Lanzarote, and is known as the Lanzarote Convention. It was signed by 47 states and entered into force for 44 states. The Republic of Armenia signed the Convention on September 29, 2010. Of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, only Armenia and Ireland have not ratified the Convention.


What are the goals of the Convention?


The discussion of the convention in the National Assembly started on May 8th. According to Deputy Minister of Justice Kristine Grigoryan, the Convention aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, establishing common standards and definitions which are applicable in all European countries.


According to the Deputy Minister, the goals of the Convention are:



  – Prevention and fight against sexual exploitation of children and sexual abuse against them,


– Protection of the rights of children-victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse


– Development of national and international cooperation in the fight against child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse against them.


States parties to the document undertake to take all necessary legislative or other measures to prevent and protect all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse. In particular, the Convention provides for the criminalization of a number of premeditated acts. These include child sexual abuse, child prostitution, participation of the child in pornographic screenings, incitement of the child to sexual acts, sexual perversion of the child, etc.


The Convention also contains articles on the prevention of crime. For example, the Convention encourages the professional training of persons working with children, as it advises to ensure that persons working with children do not have convictions for sexual exploitation or sexual harassment of children.


What’s statistics


Deputy Minister of Justice Kristine Grigoryan presented the statistics on the issue for the last three years.


  • In 2017, 265 cases of crimes against children were investigated in Armenia, 101 of which were sexual crimes.
  • In 2018, only 76 of the 317 criminal cases were related to sexual crimes against children.
  • In the first half of 2019, 209 criminal cases were investigated, 51 of which were related to sexual crimes against minors.


What dangers do the opponents see?


It should be noted that a protest action against the ratification of this convention was being held in the National Assembly yesterday. Protesters expressed concern that the Convention contained dangerous provisions. In particular, Article 6 of the Convention stipulates that States shall take legal or other measures to ensure that children receive information on sexual exploitation and sexual violence during elementary and secondary education, as well as on self-defense measures. According to the participants of the action, it is unacceptable to inform children aged 6-10 about sexual exploitation, especially they are concerned that it can be done through programs implemented by the civil society programs.


According to Maria Karapetyan, a member of the NA Standing Committee on Human Rights Protection and Public Affairs and a member of the “My Step” faction, the educational component of the Convention does not imply that as crimes under the Criminal Code should be described to children.


It should be noted that Article 6 of the Convention stipulates that children’s awareness of these issues is provided within their age-appropriate perceptions and, if necessary, in cooperation with parents, should be provided in a more general context of sex education. in particular, related to the use of new information and communication technologies.


However, judging by the public comments of the citizens who oppose the Convention, the idea of ​​sexual education of children is unacceptable for them.


Prior to the vote, Prosperous Armenia MP Giorgi Grigoryan, referring to the protest near the National Assembly building, said that there are provisions in the convention that give hope that Armenia is trying to protect human rights more comprehensively, but the document also contains provisions which threaten the upbringing of children, proposing to solve the issue of protection of children with strictures only in the Criminal Code.


Naira Zohrabyan, a member of the same faction and chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs, expressed concern over the issue of organizing the sexual education of children and the need for control in that direction.


Touching upon the Convention in the National Assembly today, the Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan confirmed that there are cases of sexual violence against children in Armenia, and expressed hope that the ratification of the Convention will promote the improvement of mechanisms especially in criminal cases.


Heriknaz Tigranyan, a member of the My Step faction, expressed concern over the public’s negative opinion of the Convention. “This convention has received a thousand and one qualifications in the society and now it is being circulated that it aims to promote depravity or homosexuality in schools. She said she hoped the ombudsman’s office would launch awareness campaigns to change public opinion about the convention.


“My Step” MP Gayane Abrahamyan made a remarkable speech on the ratification of the Convention.


“Let me talk about today’s misrepresentation and the next dose of manipulation, this time the reason is the Convention for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Violence, which not only increases the protection of children from this most heinous, most horrific violence, tightens penalties and increases the list of crimes, but it also provides much more effective protection and rehabilitation for injured children.


If this convention had been adopted long ago, if it had been much stricter in our country, then the Armenian teacher at Nubarashen boarding school, the rapist of children for decades, would not have been punished for three years, he would not have been punished only after a long struggle, and it would not have been only journalists and real human rights activists who had come out against an entire state and law enforcement system that protects to the pedophile.


These hypocrisy and false values are already intolerable, you do not protect values, but you protect pedophiles and those beating children and women in families.


Are these your values, which you present as a tradition? It is not my tradition, my tradition is Mkhitar Gosh, my tradition and history are the women deputies who were liberated in 1918 and got the right to vote and be elected in the parliament. My tradition is Diana Abgar, Zapel Yesayan, this is my tradition and the basic principles of human rights are our values, on which you wipe your feet every day.


In the Republic of Armenia, a person is of the highest value, I repeat, that no one has the right to violate the inalienable dignity of a person, this is the basis of public relations, and any violation of this should receive a proportionate response. I reject violence, I reject without preconditions, I reject without buts, I reject and condemn violence, I equally condemn all verbal, psychological and physical violence, I am ashamed and I apologize that we have failed to keep the political debate exclusively in the realm of verbal and political contradictions, exclusively in the realm of debates over programs, ”Gayane Abrahamyan said.

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