Armenia: Domestic violence claims a life

The issue of domestic violence in Armenia is well known, albeit rarely spoken about openly. However, a video interview with the family of a young woman who died of injuries sustained after being beaten by her husband and his mother has shocked and angered many.

Ianyan posts an extensive entry.

Zaruhi Petrosyan, a 20-year-old mother of two was beaten to death by her husband and mother-in-law over attempts to extort money from her and her family. In a video shot by reporter Gagik Shamshyan, Petrosyan’s mother and sister, Hasmik Petrosyan, can be seen recounting the excruciating tale of violence Zaruhi experienced in the months and years before her death on Oct.1.


According to Petrosyan’s family, she received the beatings as threats to follow through with her husband and mother-in-laws demands to ask for money from her relatives. Her mother-in-law beat her while she was pregnant, Hasmik said.

The family appealed to law enforcement two times, even with a written notice stating that if the beatings continued, it would result in criminal action, but they said nothing was done.

Unzipped also comments on the case and especially inaction from the authorities and law enforcement agencies.

I remember when relatively recently the Women's Resource Centre wanted to put posters in Yerevan to highlight the problem of domestic violence and indicate hotline for those affected to call, the Yerevan municipality refused to allow it by claiming there is no such problem in Armenia. Typical mentality. Let's pretend that we do not have such problem, let's not talk about it, otherwise it may affect our image… Instead of facing up the problem and developing effective means to tackle it. In the meantime, cases […] keep happening…

The Armenian Observer also takes the same approach and urges readers to sign an online petition to urge the passage of legislation to tackle the problem of domestic violence in Armenia.

What I find strikingly typical in this story, is that Zaruhi Petrosian, the victim, told the doctors she ‘fell’. It is considered a shame in the Armenian society to voice about shameful things in the family. This also translates to other issues in the society – take corruption, election fraud or hazing in the Army. […]

Writing on the Amnesty USA blog, Global Voices author Simon Maghakyan expresses his anger and also urges readers to sign the petition he was responsible for setting up.

What makes me angrier is Armenian government’s inaction on domestic violence even after international uproar a few years ago. In November 2008, Amnesty International issued a report on domestic abuse in Armenia stating that more than a quarter of women in Armenia have faced physical violence at the hands of husbands or other family members. Many of these women have little choice but to remain in abusive situations as reporting violence is strongly stigmatized in Armenian society.


Please join me in signing the petition to Armenia’s prime minister demanding that his government guarantee justice in the death of Zaruhi by investigating all possible guilty parties (not just the husband but also his brother and mother); investigating allegations of local law enforcement’s prior knowledge of Zaruhi’s continuous abuse; and expediting the passage of domestic violence legislation.

Meanwhile, on a related note, Le Retour (in 3 Parts) also comments on the case, but adds criticism of government attempts to stage a beauty contest which would arguably perpetuate the existing patriarchal society in place.

[…] we wonder why gender stereotypes prevail in our country and why women continue to be abused at the hands of men. When notions of “man” and “woman” get defined and confirmed by government officials, why are we surprised when violence — physical, emotional, financial — prevails in society?

When are we going to say enough is enough?

The petition can be signed here.


  • Mikemur

    The main problem with not reporting domestic violence cases is the corruption in the police.
    Sometimes victims are more afraid of the police than to their abusers. Also sometimes the punishment is too harsh and would devastate financially the entire family and affect children, specially when it will end up freeing the abuser by giving a bribe anyway.

  • Thank you for sharing this article with us. I believe that with your post you are aiming to take action against this issue!

  • gie

    In the Philippines, we have a law on Gender and Development and it’s punishable to hurt a woman and a child. The victim can take refuge in a Women’s Desk at the Police Station, manned by a Policewoman and she will be assisted to file a case in court against the husband and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, can help her in her needs. The problem lies on the woman who will not continue her case due to personal reasons of which the problem becomes a cycle – beaten, friends again, beaten, etc.
    In fact, few men also clamor for justice – because there are also women beating husbands! (though actually rare)…

  • […] abuse at the hand of the latter’s husband and mother-in-law resulting in Zaruhi’s death hit the Internet. Tens of thousands watched the video; over 3,000 signed a petition, sponsored by this author, to […]

  • […] to act. A campaign to stamp out domestic violence in a fairly patriarchal and traditional country also went online. The issue of domestic violence in Armenia is well known, albeit rarely spoken about openly. […]

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