Dear Abuser, Resentful In-Law, Fearful Spouse and Silent Government

On January 30, 2011 we will be organizing a march to raise awareness about violence against women. We will gather at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School (1615 N. Alexandria Ave. Los Angeles) at 1:30pm. We will listen to a few speakers, sign petitions and march around Little Armenia carrying signs and reading testimonials.

We do not expect this short, two mile march in Hollywood to immediately transform the unfortunate neglect for women’s rights among our people, nor do we expect it to trigger a feminist movement overnight. Regardless, we will march. We will march to honor and remember 20-year old Zaruhi Petrosyan, whose name has been eternally engraved in our hearts. We will march in solidarity with courageous activists in Armenia who are dedicated to making positive change within the country. We will march to demand that the Government of Armenia take immediate action to prevent and punish violence against women. We will march so that victims of domestic violence, locally and abroad, know that there is hope.

Our request with this march, and with all other efforts that will follow, is nothing too difficult to grant. As women, we will not be compartmentalized to “traditional” roles that were not defined by us, nor will we be held to lower standards. We will reject the flowers given to us on March 8, reject the idealization of our femininity, reject our tokenization, and reject any pedestals you might place us upon. To be recognized as merely human is enough. To be respected as equal peoples and given the opportunity to live our daily lives without the constant fear of abuse is truly enough. We will not accept, nor believe others should accept violence as a normal or natural part of male behavior.

Women, you are inherently valuable to this world, and your liberation is a necessity to your existence as human beings. However, the only people who care enough about you to work over and over again for your wellbeing, are you yourselves. So please, don’t compromise your worth by accepting an ill fate because it is all you have known. If you are convinced that change will never come, let me remind you, women throughout history, in almost every part of the world have had to fight for equality, it has never been recognized as such an intrinsic idea.

So we ask you, abusive ones, resentful ones, fearful ones, and silent ones, take this march as something more than a single occurrence on a Sunday afternoon. Let it represent a step towards understanding a hidden but very real problem that will only worsen with silence and denial. Let it represent a set of beliefs for healthier and more fulfilling lives, not only for women but for everyone.

With Anticipation,
Sanan Shirinian
United Human Rights Council

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EDITOR’S NOTE:
The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) is a committee of the Armenian Youth Federation. By means of action on a grassroots level, the UHRC works toward exposing and correcting human rights violations of governments worldwide, and aims to foster dialogue and collaboration between peoples who share this common vision.

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18 Comments

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  2. Seroun said:

    The time has finally come for all of us to be treated
    humanely. Whatever makes them be abusers, get the help you need,
    fearful spouse and children be fearful no more, take control of
    your lives. Knowledge is power. You will be powerful! Demand that
    your government come out of the dark ages and make a stand! Power
    to you my loved ones! Seroun

  3. Svetlana Swanson said:

    The United Human Rights Council will achieve real equality and practical equal rights, opportunity, and political power for Armenia’s women not by marching up and down on some well-paved avenue, but by Armenian women volunteering to serve in the Armenian Defense Forces just like the Armenian men. After that, not only they will gain equality in action, but also superiority in civil service opportunities.
    May I remind you that Armenia had universal suffrage before the United States, and even though The US had abolished slavery, it took generations of blacks serving in the US Armed Forces to expedite the actual equal treatment of humans of different colors.
    You have a win-win situation here, Armenia’s defenses will be unbeatable, and Armenian women will be never abused again!

  4. Vanessa Kachadurian said:

    Abuse happens in every country across every ethnic, religious and economic group. Armenia needs more awareness about this subject as well as education so the women know their rights and who to report the abuse to.

  5. Aramik said:

    Really? I hope this event is for the women in Armenia only. Have you seen the Armenian women in America? They make Paris and Kim look like saints. I’m all for the awarness that this event will bring as long as people don’t pretend this abuse transcends to this country.

  6. Norin Radd said:

    Simply wonderful, nothing like a group of fem-nazis adding yet another self-hating pseudo-indignation against Armenian culture as a result of an exaggerated knee jerk reaction to poor Zaruhi’s death. All of you Armenian women, ESPECIALLY those in the Diaspora should be ashamed of yourselves for the continual demonizing, whining, and falsified accusations that you regularly toss against your Armenian male counterparts.

    Zaruhi’s death was tragic and unacceptable in our culture before, during, and after the time period in which she was being abused. Never in the history of Armenian culture has typical nonchalant abuse of women been acceptable by any Armenian, be it a man or a woman. Furthermore, abuse of women is certainly not unique to Armenia, it exists everywhere, including every single Western nation, including the United States, No scratch that, ESPECIALLY in the United States. More domestic abuse occurs in the United States per month than all incidents of comparable severity that occurred in Armenia in all of 2008, 2009, and 2010 combined.

    FACT: In a 1995-1996 study conducted in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime (based on survey of 16,000 participants, equally male and female).

    FACT: Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 MEN are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

    FACT: Intimate partner violence made up 20% of all nonfatal violent crime experienced by women in 2001.

    FACT: In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.

    FACT: Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.

    FACT: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

    Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
    84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
    Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
    50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.

    These FACTS clearly show that domestic violence is in fact a MUCH BIGGER problem in “post-modern” societies such as the US than it ever has been in places like Armenia or in Armenian culture. Using this poor girls death in all of its tragedy as a rally point in order to draw gross generalizations and form distorted stereotypes against Armenian men and Armenian culture is nothing but the typical ultra fem-nazi jargon that some of today’s spoiled, highly pampered, and astronomically clueless “progressive” Armenian women tend to shout out in a staccato of cultural detachment as a means relieve themselves of the last ounce of Armenian female identity, motherly responsibility, and role within the nucleus of the Armenian family unit and our Armenian traditions. That is why the majority of you Armenian women these days are alone, lonely, filled with self pity, and single at the age of 35. You have shunned and degraded your own culture to the point where your male counterparts take one glance and move on to someone that actually admires Armenian values and traditions.

    Why were so many of these “champions” of Armenian women in the Diaspora not concerned with the freedoms and equalities on all fronts? Why should thousands of Armenian men’s lives have been lost 20 years ago on the battlefields of Arstakh when the very same women that today whine and preach their cries for equalities were sitting at Coffee Bean and StarBucks sipping their lattes and showing off their new Fendi bags to the other clueless Armenian woman sitting next to her? What about equality in driving cabs to support your families the way Armenian men do? Instead of sitting at home drinking coffee, some of these women should sign up as auto technicians, electricians, and plumbers to help earn a living for their families like many Armenian men have done while their wives sit at home or visit each other, form a pose, and go out to for en mass shopping sprees in their Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.

    As a physician and surgeon, I will even go out on a limb and say that Armenian men are not only wonderful fathers, but spectacular husbands and providers. During my career I’ve come across individuals from countless cultures, and Armenian men rank near the top for the way they care for their children, the manner in which they selfless literally work themselves to death so that their children AND their significant other can have a comfortable suburban lifestyle which includes a nice home and fancy cars. Armenian men and fellow brothers, as a fellow Armenian man, you too should be as insulted as I am in the manner in which a bad apple among us has been turned into the poster boy for who an Armenian man is by those that would shamelessly exploit this poor Armenian girls plight as a means to cast a horrendously distorted image of who we are as Armenian men in our community and the world at large.

    Asbarez should be ashamed of itself for the continuous articles it has published bashing the very same Armenian men that shed their blood to liberate Arstakh and have work tirelessly worldwide to keep the Armenian identity strong and healthy. All healthy minded Armenian men are great friends, brothers, fathers, and especially husbands, and I salute you. Those women that cannot or will not admit to this due to their own self loathing of Armenian values and traditions, these women need to move on to men of different culture. Armenian culture and tradition is what it is, as the age old adage goes, “love it or leave it”, we certainly do not want you around our communities or our children.

    • Vache Thomassian said:

      Ms. Radd or Mrs. Radd or Mr. Radd, im not sure so I won’t assume.

      Your comment itself shows your level of ignorance at not only the issue at hand, but the event organized. I will not even lower myself to reply to your references to “fem-nazis or self-hating-latte-sipping-fendi-bag-holding-single-at-35-years-old-BMW-driving” pathetic mischaracterizations you refer to because they are not worth my time. You should be ashamed to write those words without any substantive information to back what you say.

      I am a member of the United Human Rights Council, which is a subcommittee of the Armenian Youth Federation (the organizer of this March) and shockingly to you Ms./Mrs. or Mr. Radd I am a man.

      This march, as it says in the article above, is not a battle of Western culture versus Eastern culture, it is about the issue of gender inequality and domestic violence in the Armenian community both locally and within the Republic of Armenia.

      Your facts listed showing the amount of domestic violence in the United States are proof that the problem exists generally in the society we live in (in America) and it also exists in the Armenian communities here. Our community is not shielded from domestic violence and our communities are not immune its prevalence and effects.

      Locally, organizations like the YWCA and the ARS have worked to alleviate the effects of domestic violence in the Armenian community in Southern California, but hardheaded narrow-minded people like you who think that ignoring the issue or referencing domestic violence as an affront to the Armenian identity are what hold that work back.

      The case of Zaruhi Petrosyan has poignantly shown the legal and social obstacles faced within Armenia in the realm of domestic abuse. There are no laws in Armenia which specifically target acts of domestic violence. As a man, I find that to be a problem and a reflection of the societies acceptance of women as chattel.

      How can you call outrage that resulted from a 20-year old women getting beaten to death “exaggerated”. A preventable situation where the police did nothing. I vehemently say that the outrage has not been vocal enough, it hasn’t been loud enough and it hasn’t been heard enough.

      Rather than thinking of domestic violence awareness as a real issue, you are equating the awareness efforts to an insult to your dignity and that is a shame, because your dignity should be offended by seeing women walk into violence shelters with black eyes, walk into the YWCA with bruises around their necks or seeking emergency shelter at the ARS because they fear further beating. That should offend you. That is what offends me because that is not my culture, that is disgusting behavior that has to stop, and recognizing it as a problem is the first step to doing so.

      About your comment that asked where these “champions of Armenian women were during the liberation of Artsakh” let me remind you that the liberation movement was a movement of every single Armenian man and women. Women held down their homes, they raised rifles and they tended to the injured that victory and that sacrifice is the victory and sacrifice of the men and women involved. And let me also remind you that about the works of the Armenian Youth Federation (whose members are organizing this March as a community event). The AYF today carries on the struggle for Hai Tad, for genocide recognition, for Artsakh’s security and for social justice in Armenia. This issue is one of many that we work on, so assuming you know the organizers shows your ignorance.

      My values are not violent. My traditions are not abusive. And I will not stand for those things to represent my culture.

      Enjoy your Starbucks.

      Vache Thomassian
      Armenian Youth Federation

      • Norin Radd said:

        Dear Vache,

        You make a good attempt at establishing good points but fall short due to the fact that your vantage point and perspective comes from a far flung romanticized, idealized, and obviously inexperienced notion of what exactly our cultural norms are and the dynamic between a grown up man and a grown up woman.

        Signing your name with the obvious fervor of teenage angst under the banner of “Armenian Youth Federation” does not lend more credence or weight to your already weightless response. Moreover your AYF monicker does not help you much either in this discussion, most AYF brats I see around are highly Americanized arevmetahye “ztoolvatz” teenage kids that lend themselves to arrogantly thinking that they know much more than they actually do regarding our culture and being Armenian in general. When they are not hanging out in front of VISA concerts, they are making feeble attempts at putting two Armenian sentences together, so please, drop the AYF member merit badge, you’re not impressing anyone with your AYF membership or your big boasts about “carrying on Hai Tad”.

        If you’re so concerning about helping your fellow Armenian, when the next Armenian/Azeri war breaks out, drop out of your college attending, club going middle class comfort zone, tell mommy and daddy to buy you your plane tickets, and carry on “Hai Tad” on the battlefields of Arstakh instead of vacationing there each summer. Your contemporaries in the AYF had their bluff called and folded in the early 1990s, and you little Vache jan, will have your bluff called during the next Armenia/Azeri war, so its best you not put your foot in your own mouth prematurely with your grandiose responses.

        In fact, it’s better that you go back to your cupcake fund drives and leave the adult discussions for the adults. When you’ve actually taken on the very Armenian tradition of forming a family and taking on the responsibilities of marriage, have had a wife, have had several kids and raised them, then come talk to me so boldly little man about this issue, because only then will you and those like you have the relevant life experience to make bold statements on domestic issues between a man and woman that you have yet to experience, until then, it is big mouthed brats like you that are being ignorant. I think it’s best that you find an AYF summer camp to keep you busy.

        Best,
        Norin Radd,
        Triple “A” Auto Club

        • Alenoush said:

          Dear Norin,

          I feel sorry for your wife.

          But I can’t help but feel a little optimistic after reading your last comment. It seems, at least from what you said, that you are significantly older than our apparently young AYF commenter. If that is the case, then there is a glimmer of hope for me as an inferior woman and for our people as a whole, because soon you shall be dead, buried and forgotten.

          Cheers!

          • Norin Radd said:

            Don’t feel sorry for my wife young lady, I assure you she is very happy and content. Feel sorry for your Armenian father, and the many Armenian fathers across the world that work hard to put food on the table for little brats like you and Vache only to have their image, self-dignity, and cultural status tarnished by journalists that use the tragic death of a young girl to sensationalize an existing problem into epic proportions on the world stage.

            It’s obvious with this article, and those that have also recently come before it, that Armenians still have a long way to go before they drop their age old mannerism of taking a problem that is prevalent in all societies and cultures, and ridiculing themselves to death about it.

            Normal healthy individuals do not beat their wife or any woman for that matter. Those that do, well there is obviously something wrong with them on an individual level. However, this phenomenon also exists in ALL societies across the globe, domestic abuse is not unique or more prevalent in Armenian society. Moreover, Armenian men are not any more or less sociopathic in committing these acts than any other man across the globe.

            It just so happens that this tragic gruesome incident is being exploited and used by the ultra liberal fem-nazis to whine, moan, and groan about their “oh so oppressed” lives while they coddle each other in $750,000 homes and $90,000 European cars while their husbands/fathers are developing stress related hypertension providing these amenities for them.

            I’m actually not the old geezer you would like me to be, so plan on having folks like around for a looooong time to make sure that idiotic sensationalization is not made to be perceived as reality in the face of a tragic event like Zaruhis death. Count on intelligent, articulate, and educated Armenian men like me to smell the liberal fem-nazi BS from miles away and to response with due dilligence. You on the other hand with your 6-year old response of “go die Mr. Radd” actually have proven to be no older than 11 or 12, maybe 13, if you’re much older than that with the response you’ve given, then you should not only feel sorry for your own Armenian father for the ridicule he sustains with these articles but feel sorry for yourself for having the articulating prowess of a handicapped shrew. Class dismissed now go play in your room.

        • Z said:

          I agree with Norin Radd all the way!!! This AYF should learn to respect other people’s views and stop acting like Mr. Know-it-all and flaunt that AYF badge. Especially when they didn’t achieve any results, should be a bit more humble.

          I’m starting to have my idea’s about why is the armenian population decreasing.
          Not much chance that I’ll marry an armenian woman either, they’re often unattractive, pompous, not good at sex, good at bad manners (like Alenoush).

          Thanks god there are so many beautiful spanish senioritas and dutch juffrouws.

  7. Arsen G. Shirvanyan said:

    Dear Norin Radd,
    As much as I try to agree with some portions of your statement, I still feel like you storyboarded through this issue and articles and events that followed up with it rather than scrutinising the issue. I undoubtedly agree that Armenian men are “spectacular husbands and providers,” but this does not demean their hard work and infatigable souls but much rather criticizes those who cannot get on the level of the latter mentioned men.
    Domestic violence is no stranger to many Armenian families in our homeland and it needs to be stopped. Any human with a beating heart has to symphatize women that often fall victims to uncivilized men. This protest merely calls the latter to cease these violent acts against women.
    Secondly, you mentioned some facts in US which I indeed believe. It is nothing but tragedy to see those numbers. However, your argument is very much irrelevant to our issue. Other than the topic itself, your statement has nothing to do with the protest. There’s a woman in Congo most likely being domestically abused by her husband right now- it has nothing to do with us.
    Lastly, your labeling of the organizers as “fem-nazis” was very much out of line. Men that abuse women are the real Nazis who use nothing but methods of Nazis. I advice that you or any man speaking in defense of those men get a Nazi swastika tattoed on your forehead. And believe me, being a physician and a surgeon still doesnt authorize you to speak for your “Nazi comrades.”

  8. Maria said:

    A diversity of views usually makes for healthy dialogue. However, when the discourse is kidnapped by extremist views, it takes away from the essence of the issue. Domestic violence, wherever it occurs, is a stain on our common humanity, regardless of religion, ethnicity or geography. Trying to shed light on a crippling problem, which impacts every strata of society is an important endeavour yet for reasons that elude me, it appears to be a controversial one. I would hope that future commentary would help elucidate and not dilute the question at hand.

    I want to believe that most level-minded people would only applaud the efforts of the United Human Rights Council and all the young men and women who support it. Trying to raise awareness about domestic violence in Armenia or in our Diasporan communities does not in any way vilify Armenian men or for that matter victimize all Armenian women, it simply signifies that we as a people are conscious enough to understand that this problem exists and we are ready to search for solutions.

  9. Jay said:

    Saran,

    I applaud your effords of organizing a march to raise awarness of violence against women in Armenia. However, the ideal place to do so and to send a ‘message’ to the Armenian authorities would be in Yerevan Armenia, and not Glendale, CA USA.

  10. Reality said:

    Mr. Radd, what is Triple “A” Auto Club that is under your signature in your response?

  11. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    One look at the past fifty years will tell you that feminism in our western cultures has had no favorable effect on our man-women relationships, certainly no effect on domestic violence while it has been very pernicious and destructive both to our civil society and to our families.
    The only winners in this war on the innocents are judges, lawyers, parasitic court minions and lest I forget, their allies, the malicious wives.
    Husbands are always vilified. They and the children always end up as the casualties of this war.

    I say beware of this rhetoric that sounds so self righteous and justified at first only to rear its ugly head later as a divisive free for all attack against innocent husbands and fathers and the creator of the biggest alienation gap between our women and men, while our next generation itself will be the biggest loser.
    You upstart Armenian youth, please be patient, do more searches on the internet before you engage in your rhetoric. Please don’t gamble with our tiny, precious and vulnerable nation’s future.

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