Framing Domestic Violence Armenian Women’s rights organisations participating in the process of constructing domestic violence against women as a social problem

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: The notion of domestic violence as a public issue, calling for official response, is relatively new in Armenian society. Since the late 1990s, a movement of making domestic violence visible as a societal matter has arisen and expanded, with support from an international women’s rights movement. A growing amount of women’s rights NGOs have emerged, that are besides working with awareness raising, offering social services to victims of domestic violence. No such services are provided by the state, nor does the organisations receive any support from the government. The NGOs’ activities have by many been received as controversial and contentious. When making claims for legal change and official response, the organisations have been contested with threats, and accusations of destroying families and ruining national values. Even as the awareness about domestic violence have generally increased the last decade, there is no clear conception of it in terms of how to explain its causes, or deal with its consequences. When applying a human rights framework, the organisations need to reside a form of ‘double consciousness', as they adapt to a ‘universal’ set of principles, but carry them out in a local context of particular conditions. The study aimed to examine what conflicting discourses NGOs faced and confronted in their work, and how this work was conducted. Qualitative interviews were made with NGO representatives from five different organisations in Yerevan, Armenia, working in the sphere of domestic violence. The study found that NGO members faced different conflicting discourses when conducting their work, and that they sometimes, in a pragmatic approach, needed to adjust their language and claims, in order to be approved of by a putative target audience. Through these actions of interpretations and adjustments, NGOs take part in an ongoing collective negotiation process of how to define and perceive domestic violence against women as a societal issue.

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