Challenges that adolescent girls face in Armenian society
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood. This is one of the stages of a girl’s life which is considered to be a rather difficult one, full of new challenges, problems and obstacles. The physical changes that take place with the adolescent girls have their huge impact on their psychology and very often lack of self awareness and self-estimation may ruin the future regular development of the girl’s inner and outer life.
Adolescence is a fundamentally important transitional time for girls, during which they must be provided with guidance, support and encouragement to open up and discover who they are as an individual and how they desire to fulfill their unique and valued purpose on the planet.
All the problems that Armenian adolescent girls face are surely not a new thing for the whole world and each country has a part of it, but the solutions and the attitude towards the problems may vary from country to country, from culture to culture.
The challenges that Armenian adolescent girls have to overcome could be classified as follows:
Body image acceptance, self-acceptance, self-estimation
Social isolation and bullying
Adolescent and parents communication
Violence, Rape, sexual relationship
1. Body image acceptance, self-acceptance, self-estimation
In early adolescence many Armenian girls are really quick to list their physical flaws, quick to undervalue and under-rate them not only in terms of physical appearance but across a wide range of talents, capacities and even social status, whereas boys of the same age will cite their abilities, their talents and their social status pretty accurately.
Because of this way of thinking some adolescents start having inferiority complex for the overcoming of which girls need serious psychological help. Because of that wrong perception of their own personality girls usually tend to stress and become emotionally not stable. They are the girls who compose the vulnerable part of the society which can become a victim of violence.
The most important gift anyone can give a girl of the age 12-16 is a belief in her own power as an individual, her value without reference to gender, her respect as a person with potentials.
2. Social isolation and bullying
This problem is the outcome of the above mentioned issue and some of the Armenian adolescents prefer to get isolated rather than solve their problems or wait till that hard period of life passes away. Some girls become non-sociable and some even bully because of the negative emotions inside themselves. Bright examples of it are some of my students from special schools who tend not to make friends and be isolated only because they don’t like their appearance or features. In such cases girls’ fights so bullying become a serious incident which is a really important issue for schools. Though the cases of the fights don’t overcome 5 this year but steps are already being taken by security services to stop the future development and dissemination of it. / Hasmik Ghalechyan/
3. Adolescent and parents communication
“To an adolescent there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than a parent.”
For many girls in our country mother is their best friend but sometimes there are too big generation gaps between parents and children and during adolescence girls stop accepting their parents words or advices. There are several cases of trying to run away from home in order to escape the pressure from the family and even cases of suicide.
An example of it is a 15 years old girl A.S who had some dispute with her family. The officers of Mashtots Police Department prevented the suicide attempt of the girl on April 4.
Ashot Mnatsakanyan, the director of Zatik Care Center tells that on Tuesday evening 15-year-old A.S. left the Yerevan city downtown and went to Kievyan Bridge attempting to commit suicide.
Later she was brought to Zatik Center in order to be taken care of. According to medical documents, the girl has serious mental problems, she has even been in a mental clinic for some time. She lives in a village in Sevan region. She has a family but she always complained from village life and wanted to live in the city. That is why she had a fight with parents, fled from home and came to Yerevan.
Education is a strategic tool for any person to be higher than others, to be more intelligent and have more chances in life.
Some Armenian parents press their children fight hard for high marks and do additional tutorials for entering the university after school. Many girls are really happy with it because of the future career chances.
Meantime, there are parents who force their child not to go to school at all.
14 years old Gohar Abgaryan, who lives in Hovtamej village, had never gone out of the gates of their house, she has no friends, and she doesn’t go to school. The reason is her parents who seem to be mentally not balanced and who are against their girl’s integration within society. Gohar is even deprived of birth certificate as her mother burnt it. This year her father died and now Gohar lives with her mother, elder sister and brother, who is also ill. Gohar’s family is in financial need and the child’s education could be an advantage for the family. Elder sister Anna Abgaryan tells that Gohar was not allowed to go to school because her dad was afraid that other children would tease her because of her ill elder brother and besides he wanted to make her marry. Now Anna tries to teach her sister at least to write her name and surname. Hopefully, with the help of Hovtamej mayor, Gohar will go to school this year.
5. Violence, Rape, sexual relationship
Armenian community being a more traditional and reserved one needs a special care toward its girls. Adolescent girls are more likely to become a victim of violence or to be raped because during their transitional age they trust people too easily, need support from male side and sometimes man take advantage of it. The issue of violence of adolescents and the number of sexual violence has increased compared to the last year. One of the reasons is the media full of violence propaganda; the other is the bad example of their parents and so on so forth.
Last year there were 83 cases of violence among adolescents-33 out of which were sexual harassment. This year the number is 108, 43 out of which are sexual harassment.
Because of the fixed taboos few raped girls dared to apply to any entity for a help but from day to day the stereotypes are changing and not only girls but also their parents apply to different institutions like Women’ Resource Center, Women for the Development Ngo and so on. They apply mainly for psychological, juridical and medical help.
The problems may seem many for the adolescent girls but one thing is sure, there is no problem without solution. There are many programs in Armenia aimed at increasing awareness among adolescent girl, add their self-confidence, support them and give psychologically right advice. Bright examples of such programs are Girls Talk program initiated by Women’ Resource Center, weekly discussions provided by FIO NGO for special school children and many other rehabilitation centers. We simply need to believe in our youth and continue to include all the forces for the development of vulnerable part of adolescent girls.
In collaboration with Hasmik Ghalechyan