A fatal child-custody fight has revived calls in Armenia for an effective law against domestic violence. Women’s rights advocates argue that both the justice and law enforcement system in this predominantly patriarchal, South Caucasus country still fail to address domestic violence as an actual crime.
On July 8, 31-year-old unemployed Yerevan resident Vladik Martirosian came to his ex-wife and her family with an axe and a mission – to regain custody of his 18-month-old son. He let his axe do the talking, killing his former mother-in-law, 64-year-old Karine Mansurian, and nearly slaying his former spouse, Taguhi Mansurian, 37, and her elderly father, Vachagan Mansurian, as well.
Martirosian, now in custody, has admitted to the crimes, which his toddler son witnessed. A trial date has not been announced.
But whether Martirosian will face the full measure of the law remains to be seen.
Martirosian was sentenced in April to six months in prison for physically abusing his ex-wife, but the decision to implement a prison sentence rested with the judge, Nelli Baghdasarian, who decided against it.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Armenia and editor of MediaLab.am.