Spiegel on Armenian women's fate
Every year, 1,400 pregnancies are terminated in Armenia, because many don't want a girl. As a rule, it's the family who wants an abortion, Spiegel writes. Although there has been a law in the country banning sex-selective abortion since 2016, there are often reports that families put pressure on pregnant women and force them to have an abortion if it's a baby girl. The belief that a son is more valuable than a daughter is still widespread in Armenia.
An Armenian woman told Spiegel about her experience and how her family was putting pressure on her until she terminated the pregnancy. "There were two tablets of Cytotec on the kitchen table. I knew that if I swallow them, the fetus will die. My mother-in-law said: "The girl has no place here." In the afternoon she asked me again: "Why haven’t you taken the pills yet?" I promised that I would do it soon. It was seven years ago. I am now forty years old, and I live with my daughter in a small apartment fifty kilometers from my mother-in-law."
"Why is it a daughter, why not a son?"
"I studied in the Gegharkunik region. I met my future husband at the university. Thirteen years later we got married. Neither friends nor family members could imagine that we would ever divorce. At that time I wanted to live with my mother-in-law, because we had a good relationship. When our first daughter was born, I didn't suspect a thing. We named her after her grandmother. But my mother-in-law only asked: "Why is it a daughter, why not a son?" Then my husband’s brother died. My mother-in-law had three sons: one of them had already died, the second was divorced, the third was my husband. And I was pregnant again. My mother-in-law already had two grandchildren, and now I also had to give a birth to a boy, a heritor. An ultrasound tech said that it's another girl. My daughter was only seven months old, but my mother-in-law took care of her grandsons, not her."
"You'll do this now!"
At that time I managed a household, although I was not feeling very well. When I was lying in bed with my baby in the evening, I was throwing up. My mother-in-law wanted me to have dinner with them anyway. When my husband came home, he first kissed my mother, then me. Then my mother-in-law cried out: "Your wife is not talking to me!" After which my husband beat me. The mother-in-law took all the pillows and blankets from our marital bed and made a bed for her son in another room. I spent the night wrapped in a bath towel.
When the mother-in-law wanted me to have an abortion, I left the house and cried. I told about this my mother-in-law's sister, but she also drove me away. "Why are you telling our secrets ?!" the mother-in-law screamed when I returned home. At that time, I still thought that I could not get a divorce. I did not want a divorce, but my husband drank, and did not want to take responsibility for any problems.
My mother-in-law found out from our neighbors how to terminate my pregnancy - and sent my father-in-law who was not even aware of the effects of Cytotec to a pharmacy. He bought medicine, not knowing their purpose. My mother-in-law took two pills and put them in my hand: "You'll do this now!" she ordered me. And I swallowed them. In the evening I took two more tablets and went to bed.
Later I did a pregnancy test. It was positive despite taking Cytotec. I decided to leave home. I packed my things, took off my gold rings and jewelry, holding my daughter in my arms. The husband did not want to let me go. But my father-in-law stood between us and said: "This is your decision." I temporarily moved to my sister and filed for divorce. Then I went to the doctor. The drug had an effect on the fetus. The doctor said that keeping the baby is too dangerous. And I had an abortion.
After that, friends and relatives often told me: "It's fine, many women have abortions." But I didn’t want to live anymore. I killed a human. Only my eldest daughter and my faith gave me strength. When I see my ex-husband now, he keeps asking me: "Why didn’t you give birth to my second child?" After which I remind him of the pressure put on me to take the pills.
My ex-husband doesn't have a job, he still drinks. By law, he must provide me with alimony, but he does not pay. I ask for nothing. Despite everything, I I've loved him, and always will. I do not want another man. I saw my mother-in-law at the funeral of my father-in-law four years after the divorce. She hugged me. Maybe today she regrets what she did. I told my neighbors this story to convince them to keep their daughters. I do not want them to make the same mistake as me. I tell my friends from Yerevan about this, even friends of my friends. All their daughters were born.