The difficulty to offer a conclusion that encompasses all the aspects of this topic is clearly apparent. After researching and speaking to my interviewees, I noticed how much space this issue actually needs in order to be dealt with accordingly. However, there are some main points that can be summarized. Without doubt, the Armenian Genocide is a tragic historic event that to this day does not get the attention it needs outside of the Armenian community. The aspect of sexual violence is a very predominant factor of it. Especially the rape many women suffered can be seen as another part of the strategic plan to eradicate the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, but sexually motivated reasons cannot be ruled out either. There is no doubt about the consequences this had on the victims as well as the Armenian community that can not be undone. The memory culture and its goals have a very large impact on what and how certain historic events are being remembered. The reason for this lies in the fact that our personal memory is strongly connected to the collective memory. How the community is structured and what kind of importance is given to certain topics immigrates into our personal memory process. This made it even more valuable to speak to women from generation Y and Z of the Armenian community to approach the reality.
First of all, it became clear that speaking about sexual violence during the Armenian Genocide needed a context and a purpose. In this regard, there were three main purposes the interviewees named for highlighting sexual violence among the other atrocities committed during the genocide. The reaction to sexual violence is used by the interviewees as a way to draw attention to the genocide in general. Particularly gruesome stories of sexual violence are told, if other methods fail to highlight the importance of remembering the genocide. Furthermore, the experiences of women are addressed in order to solve current similar issues by learning from the past. Consequently, it became apparent that bringing up genocidal sexual violence needs to ad something to the conversation in order to be highlighted. Secondly, it turned out that in the surrounding of my interviewees the verbal memory transportation on this issue is rather low. The interviewees rarely speak about sexual violence in their communities. Since none of them experienced sexual violence themselves and felt like they are part of open communities, they mentioned that there is the possibility to speak about it if they would be willing to. However, there are three different factors that influence this. Depending on whether it is a large organization or a rather small association it can either be easier or more difficult to bring up the topic of sexual violence in a discussion. In addition to that, the crowd they surround themselves with can change that as well. Mostly non-Armenian communities proved to be more open to conversations about sexual violence. Besides that, whether the interviewee lived in Armenia or in the diaspora affected the frequency in which they speak about this topic as well. The diaspora is much more determined in raising awareness for the genocide and thus addressing sexual violence as a means to an end. In Armenia, however, the genocide is a well-known historic event which makes it unnecessary to strive for commemoration.
Identifying the missing verbal memory transportation and its connection to other factors, the interviewees also shared the reasons they hold responsible for the current status quo. One prominent one was the prominent patriarchal structures and the resulting stigmatization of sexual violence identified by them. We have to acknowledge the two different parts in this issue. On the on hand, there are the difficult circumstances after the genocide and the consequences of rape and forced marriage which prevented women from speaking out. They were either not willing or did not have the opportunity to share their experiences. On the other hand, there is also the shame factor attached to sexual violence and the victims who went through that. From the perspective of my interviewees, it is a society of specific power dynamics that hinders the voices of women to be heard who have been exposed to sexual abuse. Patriarchal structures and the related ethical principles have had three different effects on the aspect of memory culture in this regard. To begin with, there is the definition of rape in the “Eastern” societies that puts the blame on the victims and interprets the act of rape as a way of dishonoring the family. Furthermore, the fact that history is mostly documented by men which ultimately puts the stories of women through a male lens should also be mentioned here. At last, the question of virginity and the importance that is given to it in the Armenian society was pointed out.
All of this factors together shaped the collective memory of my four interviewees and their surrounding. Sexual violence during the Armenian Genocide takes up a rather small space in their lives and even though the awareness of its existence is present, the discussion on this issue is lacking. There is a lot of room left to improve and now is the perfect time to start. Acknowledging the purpose of the memory of sexual violence, understanding the reasons of silence on this issue and observing the community we see ourselves as a part of can contribute to a more open and frequent discussion on this matter. For instance, in order to take a step in the right direction, the website created for this thesis could be of great use. It is a fast and approachable way to share the important parts of the research findings and could be an easier way to reach a younger audience. Even though, this thesis alone is not able to offer an answer for the whole community, it can give the hint that there is a need for engaging more openly and deeply with this topic. Especially the connection of patriarchy and the memory culture of sexual violence during the Armenian Genocide need to be researched in depth. An in-depth analysis of the gender aspect of the genocide connected to our current collective memory could offer an explanation to weak points in our current way of remembering. The story of Arshaluys is only one of many stories of women who were either not granted the attention to share their experience or were exploited by filtering their voices or changing the perspective. The deeper insights into this particular aspect of the genocide may also start a political debate on the role of women in the Armenian community in general.