Violation without punishment: How does the gender equality law work in Armenia?

Gender equality, as a fundamental principle, is an integral part of human rights and is one of the fundamental characteristics of a democratic state.

Since declaring independence, Armenia has signed and joined numerous international treaties and conventions requiring equality between women and men.

In addition, on May 20, 2011, the RA Law on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was adopted, and the RA Constitution, the Criminal Code and Labor Code contain provisions that prohibit discrimination between sexes.

According to the research conducted by the “Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women” NGO regarding the Law on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women, however, bans on gender-based discrimination are not sufficient preconditions for excluding such behavior.

In particular, the study claims that gender discrimination may have different consequences for a person displaying such behavior. According to Paragraph V of Recommendation R (85) 2 of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on Legal Protection against Sex Discrimination, the legislation governing gender-related discrimination should include legal remedies and sanctions that are effective in dealing with discrimination.

This refers to decisions preventing discrimination, and administrative and, if necessary, criminal sanctions for failure to meet such decisions.

However, on behalf of the Law on Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, the RA legislation does not define measures or sanctions for violating the ban on discrimination.

In addition, according to this study, the RA Criminal Code, the RA Administrative Code, the RA Labor Code and the RA Civil Code also have no criminal penalties, administrative penalties or other liability (e.g. compensation for material or non-pecuniary damage, license suspension, etc.) for any manifestation of gender discrimination.

The norms on gender-based discrimination in the RA legislation refer to the legislative ban on exclusion of discrimination, and have a general character and are sometimes a manifestation of the principle of the right (equality before the law, equality of the parties during the investigation of cases, etc.). Accountability measures applied in case of manifestations of gender discrimination are not subject to legal regulation.

It turns out that we have a situation in Armenia when there are laws prohibiting gender discrimination, but there are no sanctions for violations of the ban, as a result of which the norms prohibiting gender discrimination are merely declarative.

Nevertheless, the study of international experience shows that in many countries, liability for violation of the ban on gender discrimination is envisaged, and the most acceptable means of liability are compensation for material and non-pecuniary damage (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, France, Italy etc.), as well as penalties and administrative sanctions (Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, etc.).

The authors of the research by the “Coalition to Stop Violence against Women” NGO propose criminal, administrative and material sanctions in the relevant legislative acts of the Republic of Armenia for the cases of gender discrimination.


Vahe Ghukasyan


This publication was prepared with the financial support of the European Union and Open Society Foundations – Armenia. The content of the publication reflects the viewpoint of “Union of Informed Citizens” only, and does not reflect the position of the European Union and Open Society Foundations – Armenia.

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