The Draft Domestic Violence Bill is Dead

I’ve been holding back posting this until I found a little more explanation, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Government of Armenia has rejected the draft Domestic Violence bill with the idea that different components of the law will be incorporated into current laws, negating the need for a full domestic violence law.

It’s infuriating when after years of effort, the corpus of the work is being rejected dismissively. Some parts of it will live on in other laws, like in the Code of Criminal Procedure, but many parts will be lost. Even if all the parts were incorporated into other laws, a piecemeal approach is simply not as effective as a comprehensive law.

The main issue is that this rejection pushes back acknowledgement of the problem of domestic violence for years, let alone action to resolve it. A huge component of the law was education: promoting gender equality and combating violent practices to both children and adults. I’m sure that part is gone.  The impact and normative value of having a law on domestic violence is gone if there is no such law. Without a law on domestic violence, it’s likely that people won’t learn about whatever specific mechanisms are put into place. If victims don’t know their rights and that they can call upon the police to protect them, they’ll continue to suffer in silence. If only we had a law to fund education programs for victims …. Finally, changes to the criminal code are estimated to take over a year; yet another year of nothing being done on this issue!

Armenia has been promising the international community a domestic violence law to combat the problem of domestic violence since 2010. This action will only be viewed negatively by the West.

I apologize for my rant. As I’ve mentioned before, I worked on developing recommendations for the draft law. To know that a good chunk of my work (as well as hundreds or thousands of hours of other people’s work) was wasted is very frustrating.

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