LOS ANGELES – On Friday November 30th, the United Human Rights Council (UHRC), a central council of the Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States (WUS), initiated a T-shirt fundraiser to raise awareness about and support efforts to counter recent domestic, gender-based violence in Armenia. The T-shirts are now available at www.ayfwest.org/shop.
All proceeds will go directly to Women’s Support Center and Society Without Violence – two organizations that work to address gender violence and inequality in Armenia.
On Sunday November 11th, 20-year-old Kristine Iskandaryan was confirmed to have been severely beaten into unconsciousness by her husband, 30-year-old Illarion Nunushyan with his bare hands. Following the attack, authorities arrested and interrogated the perpetrator. The following day, Iskandaryan passed away while in medical care. Following Nunushyan’s confession of the crime, he was released by police. This is the latest incident in a series of several domestic violence crimes committed against women in the past few years.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women, a group dedicated to prevention, fair trials, and adoption of preventive legislation related to domestic violence in Armenia commented on the incident. “The absence of clear mechanisms regarding cases of domestic violence and the lenient attitude towards the person committing the violence, contribute to the continuation of this violence and atmosphere of impunity. The time has come to acknowledge that violence is not a private nor a family matter; domestic violence and systemic femicide are crimes which society must no longer tolerate,” read the group’s statement.
“Through this fundraiser, our aim is to implement awareness about this ongoing issue in Armenia and we hope to provide financial support to organizations that combat cruel outcomes like domestic violence,” said Hasmik Burushyam, current co-chair of the UHRC. “Moreover, we want to work to prevent these violent crimes from existing”, she said.
The fundraiser is a part of the AYF UHRC’s “Project Ser” (in Armenian, ‘Ser’ means both love and gender), a campaign to raise awareness about gender, sexuality, and LGBT issues. Project Ser strives to make gender equality and inclusivity a reality and a practice in communities and organizing spaces.
The t-shirt depicts a woman’s profile in the shape of Armenia and Artsakh, with a purple-colored ribbon. This design was originally publicized in 2011, as part of efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence in Armenia. Specifically, Zaruhi Petrosyan was beaten to death in her Yerevan home by her husband mother-in-law in 2010, prompting The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women to be created. Also in response, the UHRC organized a march in Little Armenia, Hollywood to demand an end to domestic violence.
With a staff of 15 professionals, Women’s Support Center is working on preventing and responding to domestic violence (DV) with a particular focus on men’s violence against women who are or were in an intimate relationship. The organization is a full-service domestic violence center and also engage in advocacy work to create systemic change for victims of DV.
Founded in 2001, Society Without Violence has implemented projects that focus on empowering women, increasing public awareness and participation on various issues impacting women, promoting social activism, increasing female leadership skills and contributing to the formation of women human rights defenders’ institutional system. The organization’s mission is to educate and empower girls and women, promote gender equality, advocate for women’s representation and participation in all levels of decision making and peace building processes.
The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) is a committee of the Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States (AYF-WUS). By means of action on a grassroots level, the UHRC works towards exposing and correcting human rights violations of governments worldwide, and aims to foster dialogue and collaboration between peoples who share this common vision.
Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.