NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: No need for new anti-violence law
OVER THE LAST TWO WEEKS, I was under almost constant attack from kidney stones.
If you have ever suffered from that condition, you would know that those attacks are not a Sunday evening walk in the park. However, whenever there was a lull in hostilities, I would take out my iPad, check email and generally keep up with the news.
The kidney stones were bad enough but it was most disconcerting to receive an average of two or three unsolicited emails per day advertising burial insurance. If there isn’t, they ought to be a law against that. Luckily, I do not put much stock in omens. Nonetheless, I thought it prudent to confess my sins, which didn’t take long since they weren’t many, and got back to my reading as there was little else that I could have done.
The ads did not cause me as much concern as the reports and comments that were generated by the amendments to the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act.
As a result, I was forced to log on to Parliament’s website to read the bill. Mind you, my concern is not out of personal fear.
I am worried about the devastating effects that misuse of its provisions can have on this country.
After reading the reports of the debate, the views of commenters and the bill itself, I tend to believe that most of those persons who commented in support of the amendments, did not even suffer from cursory knowledge of the original 1992 legislation. The amendments seem to be an unnecessary overreaction to some extreme cases of domestic violence, where law enforcement agencies failed to utilise the existing law to protect victims.
Rather than study the causes that led perpetrators (men) to take the law into their own hands, Government has allowed itself to be stampeded by well-intentioned do-gooders to throw draconian legislation at the problem.
Neither the Government nor I have done research into the causes of the escalation of these extreme cases of domestic violence, but from anecdotal information, I believe that the manner of the enforcement of the legislation is a major contributing factor into the surge of retributive attacks against women, leading to deaths in some cases.
The original 1992 Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act was designed as a shield to protect victims of domestic violence. Instead, victims, pretend victims, police and the magistrates’ courts have been using or allowing the law to be used as a sword to belittle and otherwise disadvantage men. I firmly believe that the rise in extreme cases of domestic violence has resulted from men who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they were hard done by the outcome of their cases, and believe they have no recourse available to them.
These amendments suggest that Government does not know how to tackle the problems associated with domestic violence and has brought these amendments to make it appear as though they are doing something. One example would suffice to show that they are just pretending to be doing something. In the definition section of the 1992 act, it states: “child” includes an adopted child, a stepchild or a child who is a member of the household of the complainant and is treated as such by the complainant and the complainant’s spouse.
That definition was more than adequate but it was replaced by: “child” means a person under 18 years of age who is not married and is considered to be in a domestic relationship by virtue of continued residence or a relationship of consanguinity or affinity with the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence and includes an adopted child, a stepchild and a ward.
Gobbledygook if you ask me.
Caswell Franklyn is the general secretary of Unity Workers’ Union and a social commentator. Email [email protected]