"The idea of preventing violence against women and domestic violence is not western imposed nor is it culturally distinct. Violence, be that against women, children or any human being, is legally — and more importantly, morally — reprehensive. Societies and governments cannot have double or multiple standards when it comes to dealing with the rights and protection of their citizens", stressed Natalia Voutova, Head of the Council of Europe office in Armenia, at the kick-off event for a new Council of Europe project on 6 June 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Various national and international stakeholders, including media, attended the kick-off event to launch the new project "Preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia" which builds upon past co-operation activities of the Council of Europe in the country.
The project aims at strengthening the capacity of legal and law enforcement professionals involved in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia. It will provide timely support for the implementation of the first Armenian law on domestic violence, adopted in December 2017, and will enhance the knowledge of key stakeholders on the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention) which Armenia signed in January 2018.
The event was opened by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, Artak Zeynalyan, who highlighted the importance of the new law on domestic violence and its implementation together with civil society and all relevant stakeholders. The Minister made it clear that the national legislation still needs to be further improved.
Arman Tatoyan, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, reminded participants that violence against women is the most common form of discrimination against women boosted by gender stereotypes. He expressed his office's full commitment to implement the new law, backed by Nelly Duryan, Head of Department on protection on juvenile rights and combating domestic violence of the General Department of Criminal Intelligence of the RA Police.
"Combating violence against women and domestic violence should be a high priority to any legal system", stated Vice-Rector Anahit Manasyan, on behalf of the Academy of Justice, in her opening speech.
The concrete project objectives and activities were introduced by the project team, Sara Haapalainen and Liana Amirbekyan, following a presentation by a Council of Europe expert Branislava Marvánová Vargová on the importance of multi-agency co-operation on an institutional and individual level when supporting women victims and survivors of violence.
After lively discussions, the event was concluded by handing out course certificates to first participants who completed an online HELP course on violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia. The course, developed by the Council of Europe, aims at improving the quality of the judicial response to cases of violence against women and at supporting access to justice for victims while prosecuting perpetrators.
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