Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Armenian women 'victims of abuse'

Greta Baghdasaryan July 2008 (Photo: Amnesty International)
Greta Baghdasaryan is calling for laws protecting women's rights

Armenia is failing to tackle "pervasive" violence and domestic abuse against women, according to a report by rights group Amnesty International.

The group says studies estimate that "over quarter of Armenian women have been hit or beaten by a family member".

It also warns that, according to some data, about two thirds of women may have experienced psychological abuse.

The BBC has contacted the Armenian foreign ministry but has not received a response to the report.

Amnesty calls on the Armenian authorities to provide support for women leaving violent relationships, and to draft new legislation to combat domestic violence.

Stigma of rape

"Women in Armenia suffer disproportionately from violence and abuse at home and at work, but this is seldom understood as a violation of their basic human rights," says Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.

"The preservation of the family unit comes at the expense of women's rights, their safety and even their lives," says Ms Allen.

Greta Baghdasaryan, an Armenian woman who suffered domestic violence describes how she felt "afraid of the consequences of complaining".

"My neighbours saw my bruises but who will listen to them now? It never occurred to me that I could turn to the police," Greta said.

Amnesty says its report, Countering violence in the family in Armenia, looks at case studies and the background to social attitudes among Armenians.

It is based on testimonies from the databases of Armenian women's organisations, reports in the Armenian media, and interviews with some women.

It cites the stigma of rape victims and the reluctance of police to investigate domestic violence cases as hurdles.

Amnesty calls for "a real sea-change in attitudes" across Armenia, from initial protection for abused women with shelter, to the criminalisation of domestic violence.

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