Armenian Justice Minister David Harutiunian has expressed his concern over a show recently aired on state television that local human rights activists say mocked female prison inmates.
To mark International Women’s Day in Armenia on March 8, a young female journalist from Armenian Public Television (H1) went to the Abovian prison outside of the capital, Yerevan, to speak with some women convicts for the channel’s Fine Evening (Lav Yereko) show.
The interviews with seven prisoners were full of ridiculous questions that included asking them if there were any “cute” prison guards working at the institution. Audio of giggling and guffawing was added to the women’s responses in a manner that many deemed degrading.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday, Minister Harutiunian described the program as “unacceptable” and said that this was not the first time that the channel made a serious “omission”.
“I think it’s unacceptable. I am concerned about this fact and will have a very serious discussion with the administration of H1, because, in my view, this is not the first, but a second serious omission on the part of H1, and we are going to have a serious discussion,” said the official, without elaborating.
The controversial show also raised eyebrows among media outlets because many Armenian journalists have great difficulty gaining access to prisons for their reports. Some have waited for months before their requests were rejected for various reasons.