Friday, March 26, 2010

Yerevan, Armenia - Security and Crime!

This article was posted on the Women's Resource Center of Armenia Blog. It has been written by a very courageous girl, who tells about a real incident of abuse by an Armenian policeman.
We all need to hear the TRUTH, we all need to SPEAK up and STAND for our rights!

RA police officer...protector or perpetrator?

May 9th is a holiday for many citizens of our country, but for me it is a day full of sad memories which make me shiver until today. I decided to write about this day when during the PR campaign of the Sexual Assault Center I heard many negative opinions, saying: "What are you so worried about? There is no violence against women in Armenia." I am one of the people responsible for this... because I was silent.

After the fireworks my boyfriend and I walked home up Baghramyan Street. We were both around 18 at that time. Pushkin Park (today's Lovers' Park) had been out of the City Hall attention for the last few years. Even the wood parts on the benches were missing, probably had been burned in one of the cold apartments of Yerevan. The park, with its dark and quiet corners, had become the favorite spot for many young couples. We also sometimes found our solitary corner there and so we did that day.

Passionate kisses and hugs were interrupted by somebody's footsteps. Suddenly in the dark a cellphone light hit my face. It was a man in a uniform, looking at us with a kind of smile on his face that a child would have finding the hidden chocolate box. Studying carefully our faces and lower bodies with the cellphone light, his smile became even bigger, when he noticed my undone belt. "Where you f**king?" - there was an obscene laugh. We froze in fear. "The truck is parked right there. Do you want me to throw you in and take you to the station?"

Seeing the Patrol Service cars by the park every day I would wonder what their duty was. Now in my head I came to the conclusion, that besides the drunk and drug addicts, they are also there for the people who have sex in public.

We were faced with a huge challenge; to prove to the officer that nothing like that happened. And of course he didn't believe us and decided to make sure of it himself by trying to check if I was "pure"(virgin) by touching my body in its most intimate places. Because of my lack of knowledge of the rules and my rights well enough I let him humiliate me in front of my boyfriend. My boyfriend was way too scared. He only kept insisting that nothing happened. And I let the officer do whatever he was doing just to keep out of trouble. He was stupid enough to believe that fluids are a sign of missing virginity and now sure that his suspicions were right, he asked my boyfriend to let him talk to me alone. He took me a few meters away. I made sure that my boyfriend was never out of sight.

One more time he touched different parts of my body and with the same obscene voice he pronounced the following sentence, which I will never forget: "Honey, we can solve this issue very easily. You just can't tell your boyfriend anything about it." While I was trying to figure out if I got him right, he continued: "Everything will be good for you for sure. You don't want your parent to find out that you f**cked with your boyfriend, do you?" Finally I recovered from the huge slap on my face and very confidently explained to the "animal" that I was from a modern and civilized family and that my parents did not intrude in our relationship.

It got to his stupid head that he wasn't going to get what he intended, and to keep out of trouble he quickly took me back to my boyfriend, wished us a happy future and disappeared. "I will tell the other guys to leave you alone. Do you need a ride home?" - were his last words. The tears were pouring on my face like a river.

For several days we couldn't talk to each other. I tried to imagine what my boyfriend felt at that moment and I felt terrible about it. I could never tell him what the officer had told me. And he also never asked. Soon the park was closed for renovation. We never went there again.

I told nobody for 3 years. I was ashamed. I was ashamed, when in fact I had done nothing to be ashamed of. I was ashamed when somebody else should be ashamed instead: the protector of law and order.


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