On November 16th, 2017 the Government of the Republic of Armenia approved and presented the draft law on “Preventing violence in the family, protecting the victims of violence in the family, and restoring the harmony in the family” to the National Assembly. From the government meeting agenda, we learned that the title of the law was changed from “Prevention of domestic violence and protection of victims of domestic violence” to the above-mentioned title.
From the new title of the law, it is obvious that the draft law underwent conceptual changes, shifting from the protection of an individual into “family harmony”, which not only lacks a legal definition but also contradicts local and international legal norms. The other concerning issue is that the draft law, as one of its basic principles under Article 2, enshrines the protection and maintenance of the “traditional Armenian family”. To this end, in containing such a provision, the spirit of the draft law completely contradicts international standards on the rights of women, as those values expressed in the draft law hamper the full realization of the rights and freedoms of women in Armenia. International human rights bodies, including the UN CEDAW Committee, have underlined the necessity to eradicate harmful gender norms and practices on numerous accounts and requested the Government of Armenia to ensure that such traditions do not impact the realization of women’s rights.
The Coalition to Stop Violence against Women, a leading coalition in Armenia working on a daily basis to prevent and combat domestic violence, has been vocal on issues outlined in the draft domestic violence laws as early as 2011. We express our disagreement with the draft law, as it has undergone conceptual changes that we believe undermine the principles and values of human rights.
We are calling upon all international organizations, our allies, and human rights institutes to:
- follow developments in this regard;
- express their disagreement regarding the changes to the law; and
- call on Armenian authorities to demand the restoring of the initial title of the law.