A teenage girl from Gyumri who was severely beaten up by a man who had also beaten her mother to death has regained consciousness, according to a hospital official in Yerevan.
Nazeli Khachatrian, 13, has been treated for multiple traumas, including a brain injury, in an intensive care unit of Yerevan’s Surb Astvatsamayr Medical Center since last week.
The girl allegedly tried to intervene to stop the beating of her mother by her cohabitant on March 5. Her 43-year-old mother succumbed to her injuries later that day.
Police arrested a 28-year-old man in Gyumri. He was later charged with manslaughter and “premeditated infliction of severe harm to other persons’ health.” The man faces up to 10 years in prison under the charges.
The case has shocked the Armenian public, renewing the debate in the country about the need to make domestic violence a more specific crime in the penal code.
A group of civil activists held a march in Gyumri on Monday raising their concerns about cases of domestic violence and what they described as indifference that exists in society towards the problem.
World Vision’s child protection program manager Aida Muradian believes it is necessary that domestic violence be separated from beatings in the criminal code. “We are dealing with the case of domestic violence, but this is not reflected in the indictment. Why is it so important?.. Because the victim of domestic violence is subjected to violence by a member of her own family. As a rule, the victim of domestic violence is in a certain dependence on the perpetrator -- be it emotional, economic or some other form of dependence. This means that these are significant circumstances that affect the case, and they cannot simply be ignored,” she said.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian together with Health Minister Arsen Torosian visited 13-year-old Nazeli in the hospital’s intensive care unit when she was still switched to an artificial ventilation apparatus.
“Many of us took with pain the news about this girl and her killed mother, but let’s admit that this girl and her mother have also become victims of the opinion that violence in general and violence against women in particular can have some justification,” Pashinian wrote in a Facebook post later that day.
Gevork Derdzian, of Yerevan’s Surb Astvatsamayr Medical Center, cautioned on Monday that despite regaining consciousness and having said a few words, “the condition of the girl still remains heavy, as she has multiple injuries.”
Nazeli, according to the hospital spokesman, is under doctors’ strict supervision.
The teenager, whose father died two years ago, has now become an orphan. Her other close relatives have refused to adopt her, but according to child custody workers in Gyumri, there are people who are ready to take care of the girl.