Campaigners from Armenia’s Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women yesterday took to the streets of Yerevan to commemorate the National Day to Combat Domestic Violence.
The now annual event, recognisable by its purple ribbon, is held every October 1st to raise awareness of Armenia’s widespread problem of domestic violence, especially violence towards women. The date also marks the death of one female victim, whose sad case helped lead to the foundation of the coalition.
As part of the event campaigners from the coalition and a number of other groups visited several of Yerevan’s key neighborhoods to raise awareness and support for their campaign against domestic violence. Campaigners carried slogans and images of previous victims of domestic violence, including those of women who had been killed by partners in Armenia.
Members of the public were also asked to show their support for the campaign by signing a special ‘postcard petition’ in which the names of hundreds of supporters were written on postcards to be presented to the government of Armenia.
Organisers of the event reported widespread support from women and men across Yerevan, but also commented on a small number of men who took issue with the coalition’s message.
In one incident members of the group reported trying to intervene when a man began kicking his wife during an argument near the campaign. “She is my wife, I do how I like, and beat her if I want to” the man is reported to have replied.
After the campaign visited each of Yerevan’s major neighborhoods the group gathered for a candlelit vigil in which victims of domestic violence were remembered.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women expressed their gratitude to all individuals who took part in the campaign and spoke warmly of the success of their event. One participant described it online as ‘one of the best campaigns in Armenia’.
But despite the success of the day much work is still needed. The group will today present the hundreds of signatures gathered to the Armenian government in a protest meant to pressure politicians into adopting new laws to combat domestic violence.
Although much support was seen by the group the number of domestic violence cases in Armenia is still worryingly high, as well as the lack of prosecution seen by abusers. The coalition hopes that with new laws abusive domestic partners will be held accountable for their actions and future cases of domestic violence will become less common.