Training on Domestic Violence for Priests and Diocese Social Workers

12 June 2018

UNFPA Armenia supported the Armenia Round Table Foundation faith-based NGO to organize a three-day training on domestic violence for the priests of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) and the social workers of the social-educational centres from three Dioceses - Aragatsotn, Shirak and Tavush. The training was led by experts - psychologist Davit Gevorgyan and sociologist Armine Mkhitaryan and focused on the psychological aspects of work when providing psychosocial support to the victims of and families affected by domestic violence (DV), the psychology of perpetrators of DV and the process of identification of the victims and the people likely to engage in violent behaviors.

On the second day of the training, Armine Tanashyan, the Head of Women Division of the Family, Children and Women Issues Department, made a presentation on the RA Law on Domestic Violence that was adopted in the end of 2017 and answered the questions and concerns of the participants regarding the challenges connected to the mechanisms and capacities for appropriate realization of the clauses of the Law.

Tsovinar Harutyunyan, UNFPA Armenia OIC, welcomed the participants and spoke about the importance they put on collaboration with the AAC both for prevention of DV and for work with victims and perpetrators.

"In the Armenian society and particularly in the smaller communities, priests are those who know the cultural context and the environment very well and have the authority and respect among the people to intervene when it is difficult to do so for public workers," Ms. Harutyunyan said.

His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan gave a talk to the participants on the role the Church as a whole and the priests in their daily service have to play in the society for eliminating violence and helping to restore the values of peace, love, and respect towards each other.

Training invoked a long discussion that elaborated on various aspects of the work and theological concepts and values including equal value of men and women in the eyes of God, and the practice of Christian values in case of which there is never a place for violence in a family. 

The eight years of collaboration for this project have contributed to continuous and consistent building of the capacities of the priests of AAC and their further involvement in prevention of GBV and DV. During the last six years the project has been realized with the Christian Education Centre of the AAC, and under the careful leadership of His Grace Bishop Vardan Navasardyan, more than 30000 people – boys and girls, men and women in the high school, communities, as well as RA Army, have been sensitized on the issues of equality of men and women, and the key values that lead to building healthy relationships and families as Christians. 

Starting from 2018, the project aims at providing a more targeted and in-depth psychosocial support to the families affected by domestic violence working both with the victims and perpetrators, as well as dependent family members that are affected by the environment of violence. The priests will be working in close collaboration with the social workers, educators and psychologists of the social centres adjacent to the selected three Dioceses in order to provide comprehensive support.