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Stopping the violence: The law at a glance

Stopping the violence: The law at a glance

Among the most significant features of the draft law on prevention of domestic

violence is the provision for an interim protection order that can be instituted

even before the formal court proceedings have begun in the case.

Article 8 of the law says: "The court may make an interim protection order,

whether or not a copy of the complaint for the intervention order has been

served on the defendant, if the court is satisfied that it is necessary to

ensure the safety of the victim or other persons or to preserve the property of

the victim pending hearing of the complaint...the order may impose restrictions

or prohibitions on the defendant."

Articles 9 and 10 give the police the right and responsibility to act on the

reports of domestic violence, even if a formal complaint has not been lodged by

the victim. The police may, without any warrant, enter and search the premises

if they believe that domestic violence has taken place or is threatened or the

defendant has breached the protection order.

Economic dependence remains

a major factor that prevents the victims of domestic violence to approach the

police or the court for help. Instead, they suffer in silence over long periods.

To redress this issue, the draft law has provided for emergency monetary

relief.

Article 2 defines monetary relief as "compensation for monetary loss suffered

by a victim at the time of the issue of a protection order as a result of

domestic violence, including loss of earnings, medical and dental expenses."

All members of the household, whether a relative, spouse, household

worker, or even a de facto partner are included under the purview of the draft

law on Domestic Violence.

The definition of violence includes not just

physical, psychological or sexual abuse but even economic abuse involving

unreasonable depravation of financial resources which a victim requires, such as

household expenses and payment of mortgage, workers' salaries etc. Unreasonable

disposal of property or household effects would also amount to economic

abuse.

Harassment, intimidation, damage to property, unreasonable demands

or long working hours without a break, poor living conditions, deprivation of

medical care, fresh air or preventing household workers from meeting or

communicating with family, relative or friends are also included in the

definition of domestic violence.

In cases where the children are affected, Article 13 provides for the court

to "invite a social organization working with children to attach itself with the

case and ensure the interests and well being of the children concerned... the

prosecutor or any responsible person appointed by the court may make periodic

enquiries about the child's welfare and submit reports to the court."

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