Reducing violence against children in Armenia

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Funding: European Commission, WV Great Britain After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the emerged extreme poverty and the absence of social safety net greatly affected Armenian families. The cases of family break up, domestic violence and child abandonment as well as the number of homeless children have significantly increased. The impoverished families had to leave their children for the state care. Insufficient resources, lack of monitoring, various levels of vulnerability, including disability, lower living conditions contributed to an environment where the children were exposed to various forms of violence.

In response to this issue, the government adopted the National Child Protection Programme (2004) that also includes provisions to release children’s institutions and apply community care models to protect children from violence. Through cooperation with the civil society a number of resident care institutions were transformed into day care centres, mainstream educational institutions; while several resident institutions still recontinue to provide care for those children whose habitation in a family does not comply with child rights protection norms (due to physical, psychological and sexual abuse).

The government has established a 3-tier system that consists of the National Committee for Child Protection on a national level, Child Protection Units on a regional level and Guardianship and Trusteeship Committees on a community level. These structural changes have somehow contributed to the protection of vulnerable children; nonetheless, there is still homework to do. The mechanisms of prevention of child abuse must be fully integrated into these structures. Moreover, some new appraoches should be adopted to fulfil and enlarge child rights protection system in Armenia. Thus, to complete this process the Government calls for cooperation and exchange of practices with civil society.

The issues to resolve The present legislation reflects some concrete steps to keep to the international norms on child rights protection, however, the application of these norms is still insufficient as a result of poor coordination between state institutions and child rights protection bodies, and a lack of capacity to implement these norms. Armenia’s national legislation does not cover all the norms necessary to protect children from violence. Moreover, lack of public awareness on child rights hinders the child protection policy the government has carried out.

Project objectives • Capacity building and coordination of state agencies to protect children against violence
• Amend domestic law and policy on child care and protection services to align them with international child rights norms and seek for the implementation of these norms.

Target groups
National Committee for Child Protection
Three departments of Child Protection Units
ix local centers of Social services
Six Community Child Centers
Thirty-seven bodies of Guardianship and Trusteeship Committees
Children from four Resident Child Care institutions
Children with disabilities and children at risk of violence living in 37 target communities.
The project lasts for 36 months and is being implemented in the capital Yerevan, Lori and Syunik marzes.