Armenia Risks Becoming Hub for Child Sex Tourism


BY MARIAM HARUTUNIAN

YEREVAN (AFP)— A child sex scandal allegedly involving a prominent businessman has shocked Armenia, prompting charges that the country is failing to combat pedophilia due to ridiculously light sentencing.

Prosecutors fear that the country risks becoming a hub for international child sex tourism like certain Asian countries unless rapid action is taken to make punishment more rigorous.

Armenian media widely publicized allegations about sex crimes against teenagers by a businessman who until recently was also an adviser to the country’s prime minister.

The businessman, mining company owner Serop Der-Boghossian, has denied the allegations and said that his accusers were attempting to blackmail him.

The case drew even more attention when Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan wrote about it on his personal blog on Monday, promising that the investigation would be “swift, comprehensive and transparent.”

Prosecutor Artur Gambarian said “the prosecutor’s office is currently collecting materials about Serop Der-Boghossian and will shortly make a decision on whether to initiate or not proceedings against Der-Boghossian on pedophilia charges.”

He also called for tougher sentences, saying that the majority of people convicted of sex crimes against children are not jailed but merely fined. “It’s intolerable,” he told AFP.

“Pedophiles are not rigorously punished by the law, which enables the growth of violence against children.”

Sex crimes against children under 16 are punishable by fines or prison sentences of up to two years, according to Armenian legislation.

There were 18 such convictions in 2009, but only three people were sent to prison, Gambarian said.

“If the laws are not changed and the punishments for pedophiles remain this soft, it is not impossible that pedophiles from other countries, learning that they may go unpunished after committing a crime, will come to Armenia,” he said.
Child protection experts in Armenia — a socially conservative Christian country — believe that many pedophile cases go unprosecuted because parents are often reluctant to report sex crimes against children.

Tatevik Bezhanian from the organization People In Need said that the cases actually prosecuted were only the “tip of the iceberg.”

“We will never learn about majority of (such) crimes as Armenian families keep sexual crimes against their children secret,” she said.

“Parents don’t want society to learn about the misfortune that has happened to their child, fearing the stigma and shame for the child, and (as a result) criminals are not punished.”

The scandal follows another notorious case last year, when a teacher at a residential school for children with mental disorders near Yerevan was jailed for two years for sexual abuse.

Campaigners claimed that the authorities initially tried to cover up the crime by launching a slander prosecution against a young whistleblower who first publicized the schoolgirls’ allegations of abuse.

Child rights advocates also said at the time that a lack of scrutiny of large ex-Soviet children’s homes in Armenia made it possible for institutionalized abuses to continue unpunished.

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12 Comments

  1. Pahakazor Hayrenyats said:

    Outright shame! Pedophiles getting away with a fine? Ridiculous!!! I hopes this law changes very and very soon!!!!

  2. Abo said:

    Drastic steps should they take,put that man in prison and the people there know how to deal with him.
    What bastard how could he do that to our brothers to his own kind !

  3. Tsoler said:

    It’s time we have to take step.
    this is enough i believe child sex is more punishable than killing. and i agree with Abo they should put that man in prison. and also childer should be aware of such things in school. and know how to defend them selfs if such things happen.

  4. arziv said:

    The law should be unforgiving and ruthless with these lecherous bed bugs. Castration should be seriously considered , coupled with 30 year jail sentences without parole .

  5. Hartray said:

    “Armenia Risks Becoming Hub for Child Sex Tourism ???
    Are you guys out of your mind, there are few sex offender in Armenia so is everywhere else in the world, Yes we should have a better and tougher laws no question ask, but doesn’t men Armenian risks becoming a hub.
    Asbarez disrespecting Armenia and Armenians for stupid political gains please grow up!!!

  6. Ed said:

    What else can you expect from bandits who are governing
    “The Banana Republic Of Armenia”?
    I feel so angry!

  7. Hye-phenated said:

    This is bad, but why to publish such a yellow journalism drama? “Armenia risks…” and then two cases – one still in investigation stage, another one is old and prosecuted.

    And that’s from a country that is home to the Catholic Church scandals, Michael Jackson, and so many sexually abused children in every county – all listed on sex offenders registries websites and still able to commit their crimes.

  8. ShameOnPedophiles said:

    Shame on the perpatrators and the enablers… What Armenian children need are role models who provide them with moral support and assistance for healthier and productive future generations. These sick people should be punished hard to deter others from following in their path.

  9. Puzant said:

    Are you shure this bastard is armenian, I am so furious that I wish him ill. I hope he is exiled to turkey,
    that is where he belongs.
    Disgraceful dog.

  10. Seervart said:

    If they don’t take drastic measures now; it is possible as said above that other pedophiles from other countries may start going to Armenia to get away with murder. Armenia must put very severe laws right away to those sick pedophiles who are committing a crime against children. Armenian children or any child for that matter does not deserve to be crimed upon. A child is God’s gift from heaven and the children of God must be protected at all times.

  11. marcus said:

    A senior Armenian prosecutor called for a toughening of legal punishment for pedophilia on Wednesday amid an under-age sex scandal involving an Armenian-American businessman who was until recently an advisor to Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian.

    this is real Armenia

  12. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    Any advocacy, whether it’s called domestic violence or the all of the sudden newly discovered ‘epidemic’ of sex trade or pedophilia, where all the advocates are shrill women and all of the targets of vilification and demonization are all defenseless men, I fear is part of the latest of the socialist-feminist political agenda of looting the male out of his earnings so as to redistribute them more ‘fairly’ between themselves and their FemiNazi allies. One look at the divorce courts where thousands of such allegations are meted out every day will show you this link very vividly.

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