Elaboration of Appropriate Legal Mechanisms is one of the important guarantees of prevention of violence against women.
Drafting of Law on Domestic Violence
There is no appropriate Law and Supplementary Legal Package on domestic violence at the moment, which will assist in the resolution of the problem. Most domestic violence cases are covered under the clauses of the Criminal Code of the RA that concerns willful infliction of health of different degrees. There are no specially trained police officers, judges, public prosecutors, who would see in the abused woman a victim and not an offender, who is not worth supporting. They are nearly always sure that women themselves provoke violence.
At the same time, they do not dispose of sufficient legal tools to protect the domestic violence victims and punish the abuser. Women applying to the Court often have to wait for quite a long period to have their cases considered. Most of the judges are not well aware of the domestic violence issue and most of them are men. Even more, the majority of them do not realize the deference between violence in general and domestic violence.
The facts presented above, prove that consistent and persistent advocacy on
adoption of Law on Domestic Violence should be carried out for authorities involved in decision-making process.WRC has initiated drafting of Law on Domestic Violence, advocated and lobbied it since 2007.
Draft Law on Domestic Violence has been elaborated by the WRC, revised by the international and local experts, and submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of RA in September 2009 for further circulation. On November 12th, 2010 it has been presented to the Government of RA for consideration. The adopted Law will request elaboration of a relevant package of necessary legal acts and mechanisms for appropriate functioning, as well as equipped professional on the issue.
Benefit of having the Law on Domestic Violence and elaborated mechanisms in place is also making much easier implementation of strategic litigation on the cases of domestic violence, development of which is also a priority for WRC.
It should be mentioned that there were some preconditions that emphasized importance of Law on Domestic Violence and assisted in the process. The circulation and
the public discussion period of the law have come to the end and the Draft of
Law on Domestic Violence in Armenia was given to the consideration and
verification of the Prime Minister of RA in December, 2012.
Unfortunately, the RA Law on
Domestic Violence was not adopted. It was projected to the Government and the
Government developed a legislative package that included changes and additions
to a number of laws including the law on Police, the Administrative Code,
Criminal Code, Administrative Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code.
In 2010 the Armenian Government took certain steps to combat gender based violence, including domestic violence.
According to the decree N 213-A made by RA Prime-Minister on March 30, 2010 an Interagency Commission on Combating Gender Based Violence has been established. The goal of the Commission is to raise the effectiveness of events and elaborate certain mechanisms aiming to prevent gender based violence. Women's Rights Center participates in the Commission as an observer. Within the frame of Commission a Working Group was formed aiming to elaborate National Action Plan on Combating Gender Based Violence. WRC is also a member of the Working Group. During working Group meetings WRC presented the most crucial points enforcing advocacy and lobbying of Draft Law on Domestic Violence, which gave its positive results: it has been presented to the Government of RA for consideration after which the draft law and its amendments and supplements will be submitted to the National Assembly.
Currently, the Interagency Commission organizes regular meetings and discussions on the draft law on “Domestic Violence”, which soon will be included in the agenda of the National Assembly. The Commission consists of representatives from ministries, police as well as the NGO sector. The last formal discussion was held on February 17, 2012 and primarily concerned the topic of the mechanisms for the practice of the law.
It is also appropriate to note that the draft law concerning domestic violence in Armenia should be in compliance with the convention adopted by the Council of Europe concerning the international act on violence against women as well as domestic violence, which Armenia has not ratified yet.
Hence, if the draft law on domestic violence, which was designed with the actual help of the members from the Women’s Rights Center, is accepted by the National Assembly, it will have an immense impact on the prevention of domestic violence and elimination of negative consequences of it, as well as the existence of main mechanism will give an opportunity to the parties not to divorce but to take more effective measures which are provided by this law.
Neighboring countries of Armenia, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey adopted a similar law concerning domestic violence. In Armenia, the law is under discussion with hope that it will enter the National Assembly and be successfully adopted by the end of this year.
Development of Strategic Litigation on Domestic Violence
With the aim to achieve widespread social changes and improvements regarding women’s rights, particularly their right to live life free of violence, WRC carries out strategic litigation.To advocate and lobby domestic violence to the best, it is important to litigate and publicize cases of domestic violence. To raise public awareness on DV issue and the DV law in Armenia is another challenge to be faced at. Widely condemning and publicizing litigation process of domestic violence incidents is of major importance. In order to develop strategic litigation of cases of domestic violence, Women’s Rights Center has carried out a number of activities: investigation of international practice on strategic litigation, finding appropriate cases for strategic litigation, keep contact with WRC regional Crisis Centers for updates on new beneficiaries and other relevant actions.
In the framework of strategic litigation, Women’s Rights Center provides not only free legal counseling, but also technical assistance (publicity, media coverage). Those women who were subjected to domestic violence may apply to Women’s Rights Center to arrange their juridical protection within the framework of the given project.
Elaboration of Training Manual on Domestic Violence
To raise awareness of the issue among professionals dealing with domestic violence and elaborate relevant skills on the enforcement of the Law on Domestic Violence a draft of a Manual on “Domestic Violence” has been also elaborated by Women’s Rights Center.
The training Manual on Domestic Violence presented the common peculiarities of domestic violence in general, its types, specificities, reasons and the methods of prevention as well as clarifying the role and interference of police servants in given situation.
The Manual particularly directed to the students of RA Police Academy, RA Police Training Center and RA Police servants as well as it can considered to be useful for students of law faculty, the researchers and lecturers and also governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with domestic violence issues.
Upon the agreement with officials the subject of "Domestic Violence" has been included in curriculum of RA Police Educational Structures.By the request of RA Police Academy of Armenia and Police Training Center, WRC trainers conducted TOT on the Manual on Domestic Violence.
These activities are supported by the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation – Armenia (OSIAFA) - ( http://www.osi.am/ )