Mass Wedding in Karabakh Results in Baby Boom

A view from last year's mass wedding in Karabakh

A view from last year's mass wedding in Karabakh

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Medical services in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are struggling to cope with a surge in child births more than nine months after a mass wedding that was organized and sponsored by a Moscow-based Armenian businessman.

The Karabakh-born entrepreneur, Levon Hayrapetian, had 678 local couples marry in a single open-air ceremony on October 16, 2008 to assist in a government policy that seeks to boost Karabakh’s population. Hayrapetian covered their wedding expenses and paid each couple $2,500 as a bonus.

The results of the extraordinary event can be observed at the sole maternity hospital in the Karabakh capital Stepanakert which is grappling with a higher-than-usual influx of women preparing to give birth. Doctors there had to cram extra beds into hospital wards and draw up waiting lists for delivery.

“We may now have as many as 14 to 15 births a day,” the hospital director, Gohar Hakobjanian, told RFE/RL. “Last month we had a total of 192 births. We are experiencing difficulties.”

“Pregnant women are complaining about waiting lines,” she said. “We are coping with that with extreme strains.”

The number of children born in Karabakh already rose by 16 percent to 1,306 in the first half of this year. “The tough war years are gone, life has improved and people want to have more kids,” said Hakobjanian.

Material incentives offered by the Karabakh government to newlyweds are also a key factor behind the baby boom. The government pays 100,000 drams ($270) for a first and second child born in every family in addition to a one-off payment of 300,000 drams made to a newlywed couple. Families having a third child get 500,000 drams from the state.

“Judging from the indicators of the first seven months of 2009, the results of our policy have been satisfactory,” said Samvel Dadayan, head of the family department at the Karabakh Ministry of Social Security.

Official statistics show the number of marriages in the Armenian-populated region nearly doubling in the first half of 2009 after reaching the highest level in 20 years in 2008. The authorities in Stepanakert also reported a 29 percent drop in divorces during the same period.

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12 Comments

  1. Steve said:

    Bravo to Levon Hayrapetyan who should be the Hai Tad Man of the year for now and for the next generation to come!

  2. Gayane said:

    I definitely second what Steve said.

    I applaud for Levon Hayrapetyan for doing such magnificent service to his people and country by putting up his finances and thinking about the well being of the country and not his stomach or political games…

    When I read about this gracious offer, I got soo emotional.. I finally believed that we still have people who will sacrifice their own money and time to make our country better.. and what is the best way to do so? Have incentives to promote marriage and chilldbirth.. We can’t rely on our government.. but we are blessed to have people like Levon.

    BRAVO.. Bravo all the way to getting the award of “The most giving individual of the century”…

    G

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  4. Helen said:

    Congratulations, a very good idea. Now time to open recrute doctors, nurces, nannies, preschool teachers. Now kharapagh needs more hospitals, child day care centers, parks… these couples who trusted Hyrapetian, must live happy life to raise happy children…happy nation…

  5. Joseph said:

    Here is a man and a project that are farsighted. A perfect project to suggest (if not impose) to the oligarchs
    to add to their assets along their highrises in Yerevan.

  6. MGL said:

    Yes to babies!
    Levon did a great job with this mass wedding. Good example for others with the money. Rich ones can spend money for another mass wedding or for building another maternity hospital.
    Armenian population growth should be one of the main factors to survive among countries with much bigger populations.

  7. seta krikorian said:

    Asge aveli hrashali lour? Asge aveli ouraxanali yerevouyt? Azkovin tsndzalou don e aysor! Gettse Gharapaghu, gettsen nor gazmvadz undanikneru, gettsen noradzinneru, gettsen dznelineru, gettse nviradou hayortin, gettse hamayn hay joghovourtu Artsakh, Hayasdan yev i spuirs Ashkharhi!!!

  8. Gayane said:

    Now we need another rich individual to come in and start a project to build more hospitals for the women to have their babies..

    Then more stable schools for the children to go to and better economy for these kids who will grow up and make our country a better place to live and strive…

    I know that my dream is too far stretched but what can I say? I love my country and my people…. I wish I had the money… I would have definitely done the same..

    God gives them health and keep them strong.

    Thank you again to Levon.

    G

  9. SIMON PAPUKYAN said:

    I is a good start.
    Government of Armenia and Artsakh must work together to make sure the well being of those and future born babies in order to make sure than later they will become responsible citizens of their respective regions.
    We need to ensure and make well calculated steps to provide the base of healthy environment for residents of Armenia and Artsakh.
    By doing that we will prepare ground to provide infrastructure for future of Greater Armenia.

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