Tatevik Aghabekyan, Project Manager at Women’s Resource Center, Anahit Simonyan, Regional Project Manager at Women’s Resource Center, Anna Hovhannisyan, Social Worker of Sexual Violence Crisis Center at Women's Resource Center presented the objectives of the march and the activities during the press conference at Media Center.
The march was conducted on September 19-23. Tatevik Aghabekyan said that the march aimed at talking about the violence against women in rural communities.
“This was our third regional march. The first one was conducted in 2012, organizing a march from Shirak region to Yerevan. Shirak and Aragatsotn Regions and then Yerevan. In 2014, we conducted a march in Armavir Region and this year we did it in Gegharkunik. It was intended to move from Gandzak village to Gavar, Martuni, Vardenik and Vardenis,” Aghabekyan said.
During the five-day march, the members of the center talked to the inhabitants of the region, had meetings with the school teachers, parents and children, also with the employees of clinics and Municipalities.
“The situation was the same in all the villages of Gegharkunik region and the same attitude. We started with the following question everywhere: is there violence or not? Everyone replied that there was not, but when we asked if there was no beating in families, use of physical force, they said that beating is the part of everyday life. Men spoke with humor everywhere. No man considered it a serious problem. In their opinion, it is impossible without beating,” Aghabekyan said.
Anahit Simonyan said that during the discussions among schoolchildren in schoolyards, the stereotypical approach among the minors was obvious.
“Initially, when we talked about violence they considered it a negative thing, when we talked about violence in families, they considered it normal. A 12-year-old boy even said that violence was bad but if a wife did something wrong, a husband should beat her. This is an enormous problem as these children are involved in the society with such a way of thinking,” Simonyan said.
She added that the situation was the same in the Municipalities, “Men do not realize the problem, and they find it not serious. They do not perceive that they are part of that problem and they should do something to solve that issue. There is no such a perception.”
Anna Hovhannisyan said that 90% of men in villagies and cities were in the Russian Federation for outreach work.
“In spite of that, their controlling behaviors still continued inside a family. Though a husband was not physically at home, he controlled what his wife wore, where she went, what she did via skype. As men physical could not intervene, that role was committed to mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law,” Hovhannisyan said.
She emphasized that many young girls are closed at homes, having no opportunity to get education and communicate with the external world.
“The only perspective for 19-20-year-old girl was still her marriage and ruling her fate by her husband. Besides, the whole burden of a family was on the shoulders of women, women are in charge for soil work, they run the entire living,” Hovhannisyan said.
The representatives of Women’s Resource Center mentioned also that women have serious health problems in Gegharkunik region, particularly related to sexual and reproductive health.
“Reproductive organs were removed at an early age, women suffer from sexually transmitted diseases that are transmitted through husbands, returning to work from abroad. There were serious problems of confidentiality in the health care system, the personal lives of all women are public. Health care workers nominally told us what problems women had. And it was also public information for the neighbors, medical workers might tell everyone what health problems women had,” Hovhannisyan added.
Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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