In various states of the world, starting from 1996, the third Friday of April is being commemorated as a day of silence. The foremost aim of the Day of Silence (DOS) is to draw attention on discrimination and bullying towards LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) individuals and other social groups in educational institutions. Moreover, this day is meant to eliminate and prevent such phenomena for the educational institutions to become a safer place for everyone, regardless of students’ and pupils’ sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, appearance and any other social and personal characteristics.
We may witness phenomena as violence, discrimination, hate speech, mockery and abuse – behaviors that humiliate human dignity and violate basic human rights and freedoms – in almost all educational institutions of the Republic of Armenia.
On this occasion, on April 19, on the eve of the DOS, the head of Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO Mamikon Hovsepian pointed out that “Pupils and students are treated this way both by their schoolmates and fellow students, and by educators (professionals) and other workers of the institution. Even though almost every one of us had been a witness to such trends, we regretfully assert that it is not regarded as a problem in our society and it is, furthermore, seen as an ordinary fact. Therefore, no steps are taken in terms of researching such problems and, more importantly, in terms of preventing and overcoming them, in increasing and developing tolerance.” He also added that: “We often witness such cases. A 17 years old young boy had to move from three schools in the process of getting his education as a result of discrimination and bullying as he was overweight and had more fragile (feminine) appearance. And fellow students of a girl, Yezidi by her ethnic origin, refused to sit next to her in the university.”
Social worker Nvard Margaryan has stated that “Discrimination and violence occurring in educational institutions affect both the development and quality of the life of youth, as well as create additional social problems such as social alienation, manifestation of aggressive behavior and complex of inferiority, even attempts of committing suicide and suicide.”
Speakers of the press conference have afterwards spoken about the effective mechanisms of prevention and the need of elaborating measures, in particular about the necessity of having competent professionals in educational institutions as well as about the education and protection of human rights.
At the end, the speakers have added that on April 20, on the “Day of Silence”, the members of staff will keep silence and will not provide any service.
“Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO has joined this campaign since 2010. European Union Delegation to Armenia and UN Department of Public Information assist the campaign this year.