Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient

The Right of the First Night and Sexual Violence Against Armenian Women in the 19th Century

Ararat Eskijian Museum Armenian Genocide Research Program at PAI NAASR Promise Armenian Institute UCLA


Anna Aleksanyan earned her Ph.D. at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University and her B.A. and M.A. degrees in history at Yerevan State University. Her work explores gendered aspects of the Armenian genocide in the experiences of its victimized females (1914-1918). She has published in academic journals and non-academic publications in Armenian, English, Russian, and Turkish. She was responsible for categorizing and indexing Armenian language materials of the Krikor Guerguerian Online Archive. Her latest article is “The Victims of “Safety”: The Destiny of Armenian Women and Girls Who Were Not Deported from Trabzon” in Thomas Kühne, Mary Jane Rein and Marc A. Mamigonian, Documenting the Armenian Genocide: Essays in Honor of Taner Akçam, (2023).

Throughout the nineteenth century, the Patriarchate in Constantinople and the Catholicos of all Armenians in Ējmiatsin received petitions and other correspondence from the Ottoman Armenian provinces that aimed to seek justice from the Ottoman government, which local administrations and courts were unable or unwilling to provide. These petitions described the details of all known episodes of violence or exploitation to which provincial Armenians had been subjected. Alongside financial and physical oppression, the question of patvo brnabarutyun (translation from Arm.: rape of dignity), which was an Armenian way of referring to sexual violence, is present in such petitions.
In this lecture, Dr. Anna Aleksanyan will discuss how different types of sexual violence, including the right of the first night, affected provincial Armenian life in the 19th century and what was done to prevent these acts of violence.


Armenian Genocide Research Program
The Promise Armenian Institute
UCLA Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Studies
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)
Ararat Eskijian Museum
The Promise Chair in Armenian Music, Arts, and Culture at UCLA

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