New domestic violence prevention bill, including ban on virginity testing, passes first reading in parliament
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 7, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian parliament adopted on Wednesday at first reading by 63-32-1 votes a bill authored by Civil Contract faction MPs aimed at preventing domestic violence.
Opposition MPs voted it down citing several issues concerning the wording of the legislation.
MP Zaruhi Batoyan, the author of the bill, told lawmakers that her legislation seeks to increase the effectiveness of the protection of domestic violence victims, and to prevent domestic violence.
Virginity testing is defined as a form of violence in the bill.
The law, among others, will also protect children, define timeframes of protection, set free healthcare for victims and set other regulations.
Armine Kyureghyan, an opposition MP from Hayastan faction, disagreed with the wording “partner” in the legislation. Batoyan said this issue is still under discussion. The authors explained that under current law police don’t have grounds to apply the domestic violence protection law if the victim isn’t married to the suspected abuser.
“We received signals from the law enforcement system that when officers enter the house and want to take the victim of violence under protection, unfortunately these women were not taken under protection because they didn’t have a marriage registration paper, because the law requires this paper. Couples who are engaged, or unmarried couples, will from now on be under protection. This bill has a highly important component of prevention,” said MP Sona Ghazaryan. She said that 14 women died in 2023 as a result of domestic violence.
Opposition MP Artsvik Minasyan disagreed with the arguments, noting that a crime is a crime regardless of the relations between the victim and offender and the current laws are sufficient.
Kyureghyan disapproved of the virginity testing ban. She said that his is a “strong cultural problem.” Furthermore, the MP was concerned over the legal certainty stemming from the regulations. “How would an attorney prove that no virginity testing has occurred? What kind of mechanisms would work?,” she asked.
Zaruhi Batoyan said the legislation is about family values. “We must treat domestic violence differently. This isn’t a usual type of violence. It’s no coincidence that the new law defines the circle of people considered as family members,” she said, highlighting the need for additional regulations.
The aggravating circumstances in several articles of the criminal code will be amended to include the gender-based grounds, as well as whether the crime has been committed by the victim’s family member, partner, or former partner.