A government decree in Armenia that bars pregnant women who are not residents of Yerevan from receiving free childbirth services in the capital is causing discontent in outlying regions.
Sixty-year-old Irina Grigoryan's voice is drowned out by the merry noise of 230 children waiting for their lunch. Director of kindergarten N3, located in Stepanakert, capital of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Region (NKR) deep in the Caucasus, Grigoryan smiles tolerantly at the din.
A Soviet-era 4x4 snores down the muddy road to the front line. It’s another foggy day in the flatlands east of the borders of the tiny and once autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, sandwiched between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Increasingly the issue of domestic violence in Armenia is a topic for public discussion. Yet greater attention to the issue isn’t yet translating into an expansion of programmes to alleviate suffering and address policy shortcomings.
Pressure from the Catholic Church, social stigma, a lack of information about sexuality and reproductive health and limited access to reproductive healthcare services are putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of women across Eastern Europe at risk.