The Government has received much public backing for broadening the scope of local Domestic Violence Legislation to protect every individual – not only women – against a wider range of new situations classed as domestic abuse.
The Domestic Violence Bill 2022 was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday (March 8) coinciding with the global observance of International Women’s Day under the theme “Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.”
The Bill tabled by Gender Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte in the presence of current and former women’s rights advocates, former Attorney General Lorraine Williams and popular activist Catherine Sealys, the upgraded legislation extended the definition of Domestic Violence beyond the traditional limits of only protecting women.
Saying that there will be “no gender disparity, social or class strata impediments to legal pursuit of offenders and justice for victims,” Dr. Poyotte said that “now that we have broadened it, the law does not leave much room for certain persons to maneuver and escape.”
The Minister noted that “Women are the bigger victims, comprising a larger percentage of victims of domestic violence.”
However, she pointed out that not only women are victims, and that while domestic violence occurs in the home, it’s a crime wherever and by whoever, no matter the victim.
She insists “Domestic Violence in any form should be punishable, whether it is a man that’s the victim, or whether it is a woman, or a child”.
As such, the new law applies equally to any and every victim and assailant.
Offenses under the new law include: Physical Abuse, Threats of Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Verbal and Psychological Abuse, Cohesion, Molestation, Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty, Forceful Confinement, Economic Abuse, Harassment, Stalking and Cyber-stalking.
The new and wider definition has been welcomed by the police, as it provides greater clarity for the purpose of police investigations into domestic violence.