ARMENIA: In Armenia, divorce is a social disgrace so women endure tremendous domestic abuse

Divorce in Armenia: Women suffer domestic abuse rather than file for divorce which is considered a social disgrace

The Republic of Armenia frowns upon divorce as a general rule. So for a lot of Armenian women, an unhappy and abusive marriage is not enough reason to get a divorce.


Statue of Arno Babajanian

Many Armenian women remain in abusive marriages for the duration thinking it is the way things should be. They don’t see divorce as an option even though divorce is legal in Armenia. Further, when Armenian women seek the help of law enforcement, the courts, and even the medical profession, they are rebuked for bringing “family business” into the open. I was just reading a report at www.unitedhumanrights.org and it is pretty chilling to learn about the situation in Armenia and how women are made to suffer the brutality of their husbands, with no recourse, least of all, the opportunity to file for divorce:

In Armenia, the social disgrace associated with divorce is exponentially worse than that associated with domestic violence. If a woman files for a divorce, she will be considered the shameful destroyer of her family’s dignity. A police representative stated that women should be ashamed to report cases of domestic violence because such reporting could lead to divorce (Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, 2000, pg 22). The importance of escaping social disgrace was reflected in the fact that “eighty eight percent of respondents to the Women’s Rights Centre survey believed that domestic violence is best resolved within the family and not taken to the police” (Amnesty International, 2008, pg. 25).

The interdependent family is a defining characteristic of Armenian identity. One of the major obstacles in battling issues of domestic violence in Armenia is the deeply rooted social attitude that sees violence against women as a “family matter”, not open for public discussion or judgment. Public discussion of the problem is regarded as an effort to destroy the family. “I put up with his beatings for 14 years because that’s what’s expected here in Armenia.

In the Armenian family the woman has to put up with everything, she has to keep silent. The fact that I did something about it,that I went to the police and divorced my husband ” people in my village point at me and say she’s crazy, look at what she did to her husband, she should have kept quiet. It’s a stereotype, a national stereotype maybe, I don”t know, that if a woman goes to the police or the courts, she’s destroying the family”, confessed an Armenian woman during an interview (Amnesty International, 2008, pg. 26).

According to the same report, many Armenian women don’t believe that marriage can exist without abuse. The abuse is almost a part of the package and what they expect and accept as “normal.” Also normal is for many young Armenian wives to move in with their husband’s families after marriage and endure abuse not only from their husbands, but also from their mother in laws and father in laws as well. “’More detailed quantitative data was published in 2007 in the form of a survey of one thousand six women, conducted for the Women’s Rights Centre NGO by the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis within the American University of Armenia. Across the cases of physical abuse, in eighty five percent of cases husbands were the perpetrator, and in ten percent of cases, mothers-in-law.’” (Amnesty International, 2008, pg. 11). [more]

Aren’t you glad you live in the United States of America? At least, here, we women may have to put up with getting bludgeoned to death by our husbands, but we’ll all be damned if we’re going to stand for that nonsense from his mother as well. Watch as we claw that woman’s face off, in slow motion, with our bare….well, maybe not. Maybe that would be slightly ill mannered….but seriously. Are wives in America putting up with getting physically abused by their in laws??? Now, that’s a question. Does this nonsense happen in this country as well??? OMG.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjdunphy/5034077109/sizes/m/in/photostream/