Providence ARS “Ani” Chapter hosts “Hye Tea”

Hosted by the ARS “Ani” chapter in Providence, Rhode Island, a “Hye Tea” event on May 4 offered an enlightening afternoon on one aspect of life in Armenia. The event was held in the Aramian Auditorium at Sts. Vartanantz Church. Ani Jilozian, Fulbright scholar and women’s rights advocate, comprehensively discussed her work with the Women’s Support Center (WSC) in Yerevan and the evolution of its outreach in Armenia since 2010. The presentation was facilitated by Lenna Garibian, WSC board member, who works to further the achievements and support of the center. 

Ani Jilozian and Lenna Garibian of the Women’s Support Center

How safe are women in Armenia? The answer is both surprising and disturbing. The topic of domestic abuse in Armenia was taboo within the culture up until relatively recently. Yet, as presented by Jilozian, who is the director of development for the WSC, while she has witnessed progress, legislative and cultural obstacles have been slow to address the needs of abuse victims.  

Jilozian has mobilized resources for the center, led gender-based violence programming and published research studies examining gender-based violence, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender politics in Armenia. 

Jilozian’s experience with the WSC started in 2010 with counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic abuse. The need for a physical shelter for asylum from perpetrators soon became evident. The murder of Zaruhi Petrosyan by her husband that year particularly highlighted the need for more protection. It became clear that domestic abuse could not be contained as a “private family matter” and required political will to address the problem.  

In 2013, the center in Yerevan was established, with a second one in 2016. Now there are 11 centers in regions outside Yerevan. “To date, the Women’s Support Center has provided domestic violence services to over 5,000 women and children throughout Armenia,” Jilozian said. 

Social, legal, cultural and political hurdles remain. Awareness has been raised about the issue, but procedures for protecting women and children are still not totally standardized. Perpetrators are not easily thwarted. They often get a light fine instead of meaningful punishment and have continued access to the victim.

Lenna Garibian and Ani Jilozian with ARS “Ani” “Hye Tea” organizers Jean Goshgarian Michael, Linda Kamajian, Karen Pilla and Alice Simonian Buratti

Currently, 24 WSC team members provide legal, psychological, economic and vocational counseling to those who seek services. A 24-hour hotline provides emergency counseling. Goods such as clothing, appliances, school supplies and hygiene kits are always made available to families.  

There is more work to be done, as the precarious political situation in Armenia has given rise to increased pressure on families. Recently, however, in a positive development, the WSC supported legislation to standardize procedures in handling abuse cases through robust amendments to protect survivors. The WSC has also seen an increasing number of women open to seeking support and help in abusive situations in recent years.   

Garibian explained that the WSC receives support from the Armenian government, Tufenkian Foundation, AGBU, AIWA and World Vision Armenia, among others. The center has established global connections with legal, women’s rights and international organizations. Learn more at

The ARS “Ani” Chapter was happy to host the “Hye Tea” event. Jilozian and Garibian were energized and engaging speakers with firsthand information on an important Armenian topic.

Guest gathered in the Sts. Vartanantz Church Aramian Auditorium for the ARS “Ani” Chapter’s “Hye Tea”
Linda Kamajian

Linda Kamajian

Linda Kamajian is a member of the Providence ARS "Ani" Chapter and the owner of Dreamy Venice Jewelry and Gifts, specializing in Venetian glass pieces.
Linda Kamajian

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