14 year-old Gohar has never been to school and remains a virtual prisoner in her own home. The culprits are the girl’s own parents.
Gohar Abgaryan lives in the Hovtamech village in Armenia’s Armavir Marz. Her childhood, if you can call it that, is a solitary one restricted to the confines of the house and yard.
The teenager’s mother, Sona, has psychological problems dating back to when Gohar was born. Villagers claim that Sona fled the house in a mad panic when she was about to give birth and that Gohar was born under the bridge of a nearby river. No wonder the girl doesn't have a birth certificate.
It seems the girl’s father, Merouzhan Abgaryan, who passed away just a few days ago, was also mentally disturbed.
Gohar’s 27 year-old sister Anna told us that she tries to home instruct the young girl whenever possible.
“I’d really like for her to go to school since she is quite bright but our father never let her go. He was afraid that the school kids would tease her for having a sick mother and brother,” Anna said.
Their brother, 34 year-old Gevorg, has his own share of psychological issues. When we visited the house, Gevorg was arranging fir wood in the yard and laughing out loud for no apparent reason.
Anna told us that her mom and brother started to act strangely out of the blue.
“One day my mother woke up and told us that the police were coming to the house and would demolish the place. It got gradually worse after that. Now, she is constantly chattering and yelling all day.”
Anna is totally against having her mother and brother admitted to a psychological ward. She can’t even purchase various medicines for them due to the lack of money. The two have never even been checked by a physician.
Anna also wants Gohar to get out and start socializing with kids her own age. The older sister says that she and another brother will pay for a teacher to come to the home to give lessons to Gohar.
“We would like Gohar to be able to write her own name. In time, we would let her go outside and play with other children,” says Anna.
She says that no one from the village school has ever inquired about Gohar.
Gohar was very reluctant to talk to us. She behaved like a young child and sat on Anna’s lap. Her verbal skills were quite lacking and she had difficulty composing full sentences.
The girl said her biggest wish was to see her mother and brother healthy. Gohar also revealed that she wanted a teddy bear the same size as herself.
“I want to learn but in the home. The others make fun of me. It would be great if a teacher came to the house,” Gohar said, adding that she doesn’t get bored staying at home all the time because she helps her sister with the household chores.
But just imagine that Gohar has no friends at all since she never goes out.
When we asked why Gohar doesn’t have a birth certificate, Anna said her mother burnt all the family documents.
Believe it or not, the mother also burnt the bed, mattress and all, and now sleeps on the metal bedsprings.
The only breadwinner in the family is Gohar’s 32 year-old brother who sells flowers. The family receives no state assistance or disability pensions. They’ve never applied for any help.
Anna complained that once when she went to the hospital on behalf of someone else the first thing they asked for was a bribe. She got disillusioned and never went back.
Anoush Sargsyan, assistant to the village mayor, told Hetq that Gohar never had a birth certificate to burn in the first place.
“We advised the parents to file for Gohar’s birth certificate and to send the girl to school, but the parents balked. They said they were teaching the girl at home. The family didn’t even allow employees from child welfare into the house. We’ve never even seen what Gohar looks like,” Sargsyan said.
Neighbors told us that the Abgaryan family even refused 50,000 AMD offered by the village mayor to defray funeral costs for the father.
We also spoke to school principal Narine Yeghyan about Gohar’s situation and whether she even was aware that such a girl existed. The principal became visibly irritated when I made my inquiry.
“You are not my boss and I don’t have to answer to you. What’s the problem? I periodically send info to my higher-up. What gives you the right to ask me such things? If my boss instructs me to talk to you, that’s another matter,” said Principal Yeghyan.
Yeghyan later said that they knew about Gohar and were taking certain steps in the matter. She told me that the village mayor had visited the Abgaryans on several occasions and that the father refused to send Gohar to school, saying that he was going to marry her off.
The principal claimed that she had sent a teacher to the house but that the father refused her entry as well.
Gayane Karinyan, the newly appointed head of the Division of Family, Women and Child Welfare of Armavir Marz, told me that three days ago Gohar had been duly registered as a child with no birth certificate and that she knew nothing more about the girl.
After my visit, Karinyan invited the Hovtamech mayor to her office for a briefing about Gohar and her family.
Karinyan also promised to visit the Abgaryan household next week to get a firsthand look at the situation.
Viewed 3184 times Baffling Wealth: How Did Marzpet Khachatryan Boost Revenues from 3 Million to 7 Billion?
Viewed 2322 times MP Bagratyan to Government: "Go to Google Map and see how much land is devoted to grape growing"
Viewed 2167 times ARF MP to Ministers: "The people would beat you up in the streets"
Viewed 1089 times Bruno Didn't Know the Armenian-Turkish Border Was Closed: A Traveller's Tale
Viewed 1085 times Mystery Dig: Who's Removing the Pipes in Lori?
Viewed 991 times Agricultural Expert: Armenia's Hail Cannons Ineffective and Outdated