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Discover the Caucasus – Human Rights in Armenia Part 3

Day six, the final day of the visit part of this study visit, took us to Yerevan where we would visit two NGO’s namely PINK Armenia and the Women’s Resource Centre, first up was PINK Armenia. Public Information in Need of Knowledge Armenia (PINK Armenia) is an NGO that focus on sexual health, human rights and gender issues. They strive to create a tolerant and sexually healthy society in Yerevan but also in the entirety of Armenia. One of the things that followed from this visit was that the rights of the LGBT community were being violated in every sphere and that it’s being condoned by the government. They did mention that some progress was being made however slight it may be. Our second and final NGO of the day was the Women’s Resource Centre.

At Pink Armenia (photo credit @Pauline Tillmann)

At Pink Armenia (photo credit @Pauline Tillmann)

As its name indicates the Women’s Resource Centre is an institution aimed at providing resources for young women in Armenia. Their resources vary from educational resources, legal and psychological counseling and support for sexual violence victims. The discussion at this NGO focused primarily on the issues faced by women in Yerevan specifically and Armenia in general. One topic that stood out in this discussion was the issue of gender selective abortions. This sensitive topic seemed to be a very realistic issue in Armenia and provided a window into the value attributed to each gender and the role they have in Armenian society. After visiting this final NGO we were tasked with interviewing the locals of Yerevan which proved somewhat troublesome since it was Yerevan Day, the celebration of Yerevan’s founding. On this occasion this historic city turned 2795 and the festivities made it difficult to conduct many interviews. After a long but interesting day we made our way back to Vanadzor.

Yerevan from the Cascade

Yerevan from the Cascade

The seventh day started off with a moment for both personal and group reflection. It was a nice way to collect all our thoughts on what we had experienced for the past week. The fact that you could gain insights into the other participants’ thoughts especially was a nice bonus. After we had finished our personal and group reflection we were tasked with collecting and comparing our findings from the interviews with other groups. Though there were some differences in general we came to the same conclusions. For example we all encountered that many interviewees knew what human rights were but could not name any specific rights and that they were hesitant to speak about their personal experiences. After this day of reflection and assembling information we were treated to a lovely traditional Armenian dinner after which the first participants were already leaving. On day eight, the final day of the study visit, we were asked to come up with certain projects based on the experiences we had in Armenia. We were free to choose our own groups and many different ideas came about as a consequence.

Goodbye Armenia! (photo credit @Pauline Tillmann)

Goodbye Armenia! (photo credit @Pauline Tillmann)

After eight days of getting to know Armenia and the human rights situation there it was time to leave this beautiful country. All in all it was a great learning experience and it provided a window into the daily life of Armenians, additionally it provided an interesting contrast with life here in the Netherlands. The work that these NGO’s do is of extreme importance and with the changes that are coming in Armenia as a consequence of joining the EURAsEC customs union it is important that they will be able to carry on their missions. Though the human rights situation there is not ideal the positive impact of these NGO can be felt and through their work the situation will only improve!

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