Violence is the deliberate use of physical power or the power as such and/or is the threat toward the individuals, groups or communities which leads or has a high potential to lead to injuries, death, psychological traumas, incomplete development, infirmity.
Violence against women is one of the most widespread phenomena nowadays and is a global problem. Women face physical, sexual, financial, psychological violence both in their families and outside in various countries.
World statistics regarding the violence against women is alarming. In Armenia, too, the situation demands urgent actions. The result of the research done by several NGOs has shown that every woman in Armenia has faced this or that form of violence at least once in her lifetime, although this topic is not discussed often. It is conditioned by national mentality and family values: the internal problems of families are not outspoken in the society.

The topic of violence against women is becoming more actual year after the year in comparison to the previous years. The information technologies have become very important in voicing the issue and in this context the very social networks contribute to the solution of the problem.

On October 1 2010, a video appeared on Facebook and Youtube which was telling about the brutal murder of twenty year-old Zaruhi Petrosyan. On 30th  September 2010, at 20:00, a report was received at the police station of Masis from the hospital that Zaruhi Petrosyan, born in 1990, was delivered there with “cranial brain hematoma, closed fracture of middle phalange of the second finger of the right hand and bruises in different parts of her body”. The same day Zaruhi Petrosyan was transferred to “Erebuni” medical center where she passed away on October 1, at 03:00.

According to the testimonies acquired during the investigation, Zaruhi was periodically beaten by her husband, Yanis Sarkissov. On the day of the crime, on September 26th, according to the testimonies of the eyewitnesses, he has severely beaten Petrosyan in the result of which the injuries described above were caused.

Zaruhi and Yanis married in March 2008. After her marriage, Zaruhi was periodically beaten by her husband and mother-in-law, up to the point of bruises, bleeding and faints.

Zaruhi’s relatives claim that she was barbarically beaten for several days at home before being transferred to the hospital on the day of her death, which was witnessed by the neighbors as well who gave testimonies in the police station of Masis. The neighbors entered their house the day of Zaruhi’s death and saw how she was thrown on the ground and beaten, how her ankles and fingers were broken, head smashed and the mouth shut by a cloth, so that the bleeding would stop. Then, one of the neighbors told her son to call the police. When the mother-in-law and the husband knew the police was on its arrival, they pushed Zaruhi down the stairs and took back home, in order to prove that she fell from the stairs and crushed.

The tragic case of Zaruhi Petrosyan created an outcry both in social networks and among NGOs. Aiming to claim fair trial and to foster transparency of the case, seven NGOs created the coalition “To Stop Violence against Women”. Based on its main aim the Coalition pursues the inspection of the tragic case of Zaruhi Petrosyan and tries to ensure the transparency of the process. The members of the Coalition “To Stop Violence against Women” are: “Society Without Violence” NGO, “Women Rights Center” NGO, “Women Assistance Center/ Toufenkian Foundation”, “Women Resource Center” NGO, “Zangakatun” Charitable Non-Governmental Organization, “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” (PINK Armenia) NGO, “Sexual Assault Crisis Center” NGO, “Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Crisis Center”.

The Coalition has organized series of actions during the short period of its functioning.

On November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a march was organized in memory of the victims of domestic violence and of Zaruhi Petrosyan. The coalition urged people to join the sixteen-day event dedicated to the phenomenon of violence against women, from 25th November till 10th December organized by the member NGOs of the Coalition.

The participants of the march handed an open letter to the appropriate governmental bodies, the aim of which was to attract their attention regarding the problem. During the march a petition was organized for adoption of appropriate mechanisms and punishment for the prevention and castigation of the violence against women and children.

On 31st January 2011 the representatives of the Coalition organized a protest in front of the main building of the Prosecution Office with “Don’t be silent, speak up!”, “20 year-old Zaruhi Petrosyan has died because of the brutal beat of her husband and mother-in-law”, “No to the domestic violence!” and other posters containing various messages claiming a fair investigation to clarify the circumstances of the death of Zaruhi and to adjudicate a fair verdict. A simultaneous action was taken in Los Angeles, with the initiative of “Human Rights Council” that was calling for ending the violence against women in Armenia.

The members of the coalition organize various meetings with the lawyer, neighbors of Zaruhi, professors, her sister and her family, her friends, attorneys and prosecutors wishing to stimulate a fair lawsuit and an appropriate punishment for the culpable.

Now the lawsuit of Zaruhi Petrosyan’s case is still in the process. The Coalition “To Stop Violence against Women” continues taking active participation in the process of lawsuit and puts all the efforts to achieve its goal.

Nvard Margaryan