BET­TER PRO­TEC­TION FOR DOMESTIC VI­O­LENCE VIC­TIMS

It will no longer only be about phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse

New Straits Times - - Opinion - salle­hbuang@hot­mail.com The writer for­merly served the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Cham­bers be­fore he left for prac­tice, the cor­po­rate sec­tor and, then, the academia

ON April 4, the De­wan Rakyat heard the first read­ing of the Domestic Vi­o­lence (Amend­ment) Bill 2017, the lat­est se­ries in the gov­ern­ment’s legal re­form agenda.

Ac­cord­ing to Women’s Aid Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WAO) spokesman, Kelvin Ang, there were 10,282 re­ported domestic vi­o­lence cases from Jan­uary 2014 to Jan­uary last year, in­volv­ing 2,651 male vic­tims and 7,631 fe­males.

This con­firms a new di­men­sion of the prob­lem — that male vic­tims ac­count for a sub­stan­tial num­ber of the vic­tims of domestic vi­o­lence.

The term “domestic vi­o­lence” is gen­er­ally de­scribed as a pat­tern of abu­sive be­hav­iour in any re­la­tion­ship, com­mit­ted by one party to gain or main­tain con­trol over another.

Domestic vi­o­lence can be phys­i­cal, sex­ual, emo­tional, eco­nomic, or psy­cho­log­i­cal ac­tion (or threats of ac­tion) that im­pact another per­son.

It can hap­pen to any­one re­gard­less of race, age, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, re­li­gion, or gen­der, and can af­fect peo­ple of all back­grounds and ed­u­ca­tion lev­els.

Women, Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ro­hani Ab­dul Karim was re­ported as say­ing that the new amend­ment would pro­vide more pro­tec­tion to abuse vic­tims re­gard­less of gen­der.

She had said that 26 per cent out of the 5,100 domestic vi­o­lence vic­tims in 2015 were hus­bands.

“Hus­bands are be­ing abused, too, not just the wives. This is why we are amend­ing the act,” she had said.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that it was “high time” to re­vamp the 1994 law, Ro­hani had said ac­cord­ing to po­lice sources, 15,617 domestic vi­o­lence cases were re­ported be­tween 2014 and last year.

The new law has en­larged the def­i­ni­tion of “domestic vi­o­lence” in Sec­tion 2 of the Domestic Vi­o­lence Act 1994 (the prin­ci­pal act) by in­sert­ing three new para­graphs, re­sult­ing in the term “domestic vi­o­lence” to in­clude the fol­low­ing cir­cum­stances:

DIS­HON­ESTLY mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing the vic­tim’s prop­erty, which causes the vic­tim to suf­fer dis­tress due to fi­nan­cial loss;

THREAT­EN­ING the vic­tim with in­tent to cause the vic­tim to fear for his safety or the safety of his prop­erty, to fear for the safety of a third per­son, or to suf­fer dis­tress; and,

COM­MU­NI­CAT­ING with the vic­tim, or com­mu­ni­cat­ing about the vic­tim to a third per­son, with in­tent to in­sult the mod­esty of the vic­tim through any means, elec­tronic or oth­er­wise.

In short, domestic vi­o­lence is no longer about phys­i­cal and/or emo­tional abuse.

Threat­en­ing to ex­pose a nude photo of the vic­tim in the so­cial me­dia is also domestic vi­o­lence.

An im­por­tant fea­ture in the new law is the Emer­gency Pro­tec­tion Or­der (EPO) in­tro­duced by the newly in­serted Part 1A, con­tain­ing six new pro­vi­sions namely sec­tions 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E and 3F.

The ex­ist­ing Sec­tion 13 in the prin­ci­pal act has been re­placed by a new Sec­tion 13 set­ting out when a pro­tec­tion or­der may be sought, and this is fur­ther strength­ened by another new sec­tion 13A stat­ing who can ap­ply or seek a pro­tec­tion or­der.

Un­der the new sec­tion 3A, an au­tho­rised so­cial wel­fare of­fi­cer is now em­pow­ered to is­sue an EPO for the vic­tims of domestic vi­o­lence.

An ap­pli­ca­tion for the EPO can be made at any time whether or not an in­terim pro­tec­tion or­der (IPO) or a pro­tec­tion or­der (PO) has been is­sued or an ap­pli­ca­tion for such an or­der is still pend­ing.

The EPO is valid for seven days only.

The new sec­tion 3B pro­vides for the ser­vice of an EPO on the per­son against whom the or­der is made.

If per­sonal ser­vice can­not be ef­fected, sec­tion 3C pro­vides for sub­sti­tuted ser­vice.

Another im­por­tant fea­ture in the new law is con­tained in the amended sec­tion 6 of the prin­ci­pal act.

This amended pro­vi­sion now em­pow­ers the court (if sat­is­fied that it is nec­es­sary to do so for the pro­tec­tion and per­sonal safety of the vic­tim, child or in­ca­pac­i­tated adult) to grant the right of ex­clu­sive oc­cu­pa­tion of the whole shared res­i­dence in a pro­tec­tion or­der to a pro­tected per­son.

Un­der the new amend­ment, the court is no longer al­lowed to grant the right of ex­clu­sive oc­cu­pa­tion of only a spec­i­fied part of the shared res­i­dence to a pro­tected per­son.

The grant of the right of ex­clu­sive oc­cu­pa­tion of the whole shared res­i­dence to a pro­tected per­son is to en­sure the safety of the pro­tected per­son.

The EPO there­fore acts as an im­me­di­ate tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion for vic­tims from their abusers, with­out them hav­ing to lodge a po­lice re­port or go to court, Ro­hani said.

Domestic vi­o­lence can be phys­i­cal, sex­ual, emo­tional, eco­nomic, or psy­cho­log­i­cal ac­tion (or threats of ac­tion) that im­pact another per­son. It can hap­pen to any­one re­gard­less of race, age, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, re­li­gion, or gen­der, and can af­fect peo­ple of all back­grounds and ed­u­ca­tion lev­els.

Women, Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ro­hani Ab­dul Karim says ac­cord­ing to po­lice sources, 15,617 domestic vi­o­lence cases were re­ported be­tween 2014 and last year.

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