Human rights activists say children’s rights are not protected in Armenia

Yerevan-based members of the Child Protection Network (CPN), founded to support children who end up in hard situations, stated at a press conference on Friday that the issue of child abuse in Armenia is kept behind closed doors.

November 19 is the International Day on Prevention of Child Abuse, which is a social movement, created in 140 countries of the world. Armenia has become a member of the movement since 2007. Twelve organizations are working with children and families included in CPN, founded in 2005.

“Our public prefers not to talk about violence, especially when it is committed within a family,” says Tatevik Bezhanyan, manager of the ‘Prevention of Child Trafficking in Armenia’ of the People in Need Organization.

Specialists state that no common methods have been drafted for registration of child abuse cases in Armenia yet. The latest figures from police are two years old, when 96 cases of sexual abuse of a child were reported.

Mira Antonyan, Head of the Children's Support Center of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), says that child neglect is the worst case of child abuse. Physical violence in families, by children of the same age and even by teachers is in the second greatest concern, while sexual harassments are a third. Physical abuse is loosely defined in Armenia, where most parents and teachers still consider it normal to slap or spank children who misbehave.

According to the statistics provided by the FAR Children’s Support Center, in 2008-2010, the overwhelming majority of 470 children who had taken shelter in their the center, suffered from various abuse, with 36 underage children suffering sexual abuse.