Narine Aleksanyan

Narine Aleksanyan

“Not only for ‘ticking the box’”

In 2017, PhD in Law, Associate Professor Narine Aleksanyan, with the support of Coalition to Stop Violence against Women, conducted a research on Law on Provision of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men which was adopted by the Government of Armenia in 2013. We spoke to Ms Aleksanyan to understand why this law lacks mechanisms to be fully implemented. 

 

Interview : Karine Ghazaryan

 

First of all, what one should do if he or she thinks their rights were violated based on their gender?

— There are three types of remedies: the right to apply to state and local self-government bodies, the right to receive support of Human Rights Defender, and the right to judicial protection. The first remedy is abstract, because the regulations for the implementation of this right do not provide details on the powers of those bodies, on the decision to be adopted, on the legal consequences, etc. As to the second remedy, Human Right Defender has no power to adopt an obligatory decision on the case of gender discrimination. The third remedy has not been implemented in the judicial practice, as the Law has been applied in very limited cases, which did not concern the consideration of a certain case of gender discrimination, but cases of divorce or childcare. The implementation of the right to judicial protection is ineffective because of lack of procedural rules and guarantees.

The law on equality was adopted five years ago. Why do you think there are problems with its practical enforcement?

— The reason is the lack of legislative and institutional guarantees for its enforcement. The Law and branch legislative acts do not define responsibility measures for violation of prohibition of gender discrimination. No criminal sanction, administrative fine or other type of responsibility, such as, for example, compensation of pecuniary or non-pecuniary damage, license suspension, etc., is stipulated for any manifestation of gender discrimination. This means that the legislative prohibition has a declarative nature. Furthermore, the institutional mechanisms are incomplete. In Armenia there is no authorized body with a relevant function for considerations of complaints on cases of gender discrimination. The gender expertise of normative acts is not enforced because there is no institution with the power to implement gender expertise, and it remains “on paper.”

What should be done to ensure most effective implementation?

— First, the laws should define sanctions for discriminating based on gender. Secondly, those sanctions should be applied by an authorized institution or courts to the relevant persons violating the law, which will create case law having, inter alia, preventive significance. Third, the awareness raising campaigns should be implemented, informing people about law and the available remedies.

Besides the Law on Equality and recently adopted Law on Domestic Violence, is there any other law on gender issues?

— There is not, but I would like to mention, that during the constitutional reform in 2015, for the first time the principle of equality between men and women was separately stipulated in the Constitution. This statement was supposed to be followed by respective legislative acts, but there has been none so far.

Should a law be created when there is a public need or demand, or should the government prepare citizens for certain changes in the legislation?

— It can be from both sides. The demand is crucial, because laws exist for regulating public relations. However, in the case of domestic violence, discrimination or gender equality, the problems do exist, but they are not spoken much due to a number of objective and subjective reasons. Armenia also has international obligations to develop these laws and regulate the field. But the Parliament should not adopt the laws only for “ticking the box” next to the sequential international obligation, but should adopts enforceable, applicable and effective laws, which have all legislative and institutional guarantees to meet the needs of the society and be fully implemented in real life.