On May 11, the National Assembly ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Violence, which Armenia signed in 2010. Of the 48 states that have signed the Convention, 47 have already ratified it.
The Convention was criticized on online and news platforms. The most important point of the convention was the one about the education of children.
We refer to the three main manipulative claims discussed during this period. These are the perversion of children during education, the propaganda of homosexuality and the characterization of the convention as violence against children.
When the Lanzarote Convention and the perversion of children are identified as the same
Article 6 of the Lanzarote Convention is the most widely discussed.
Online and news outlets claim that sex education in children at an early age can bring about unnecessary interest, the information about sex will be incomprehensible to children, inappropriate for their age, in some cases, there was talk of talking about sex with children from the very first days of school, and this was described as the deliberate perversion of children.
An example of such an assertion is the article “The National Assembly ratified a convention that would allow a child to hear and talk about sex from the very beginning of their school career” on the BlogNews.am website. In the post, the president of the NGO insists that the child will hear and talk about sex from the very beginning of their school career.
Article 6 of the Convention stipulates that “Each Party shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to prevent all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and to protect children.” It is clear that talking about sex does not agree with children’s abilities.
During the NA briefing, Maria Karapetyan, a member of the “My Step” faction, said that education for children will be in accordance with their age. “The Convention encourages countries to have resources in their national education programs, to enable children to recognize the first signals of the dangers and risks of their sexual invulnerability, and to be able to defend themselves. This does not mean that elementary school children should learn what sexual invulnerability is.”
Karapetyan also thinks that it is important that children receive such education at an early age, because it is at this age that children are most vulnerable.
Homosexual propaganda and the convention
The next most discussed article is the second, which prohibits discrimination, including based on sexual orientation.
The media and individuals place the second and sixth articles side by side, creating the impression that children will be educated about homosexuality, and that LGBT people will work with children at school.
In one of the publications, Yerkir.am website refers to the statement of the government representatives that they control the educational processes and can exclude the entry of materials with bad content and NGOs which become a cause for concern.
The article gives an example of how sex education classes were conducted in schools by NGOs. At the end of the article, the author confidently assures the reader that the people they presented will invade schools and teach sex education and accuses the NSS of inaction.
The article is extensive, but only the first and last few paragraphs are about the convention.
Article 5 of the Convention deals with recruitment, training and working with children to raise their awareness.
The second part of the article states that people working with children should have sufficient knowledge about sexual exploitation and sexual violence against children, and be able to detect such violations.
People working with children must have the appropriate knowledge. At some point in the Convention, there is no mention of their obligation to be a representative of the LGBT community. It is defined what children should be taught about the dangers of sexual exploitation and sexual violence, as well as how to protect themselves. These articles of the Convention are not about homosexuality.
The convention itself is violence
If in some cases the two points made by the convention are criticized, and we encounter a sound analysis of the possible risks, then there are cases when the media and individuals falsely claim that the Convention does not protect children from sexual violence and sexual exploitation, but quite the opposite.
The Golos Armenia website published an article entitled “The Lanzarote Convention itself is Violence Against Children.”
The material presents the possible risks of the implementation of the convention as presenting the situation as though there are already existing realities and presenting them to the public as an inevitability, meanwhile, they are only hypotheses.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Youth of the Republic of Armenia does not yet have the curriculum to implement the education, so the article criticizes something that does not yet exist.
If we read the convention, we will see that only one of the 50 articles mentioned refers to education, the other points refer to actions against child molestation, therefore the claim that the convention itself is already violence against children is false.
The article was prepared as an educational material within the framework of the Media Initiatives Fact-Finding Training Program