Domestic violence may be addressed in the constitutions of states, in criminal codes, in administrative provisions, in gender equality provisions, and many other contexts. Many countries include domestic violence offenses within the general criminal statues prohibiting such acts as assault, homicide, and confinement of persons against their will. However, in this context if the criminal law does not specifically address domestic violence, it is often ignored or treated less seriously. It is best if domestic violence is addressed in specific laws which take into account the dynamics of domestic violence, including repeat, low level injuries, and the need for urgent protective remedies.
PROMISING PRACTICE: After more than ten years of work by Tajik and international advocates against domestic violence, Tajikistan adopted a domestic violence law in March 2013. Prior to the passage of this bill, there was no law addressing domestic violence in Tajikistan. The new law defines measures to prevent domestic violence, allows police officers to bring legal complaints against abusers based on information from witnesses and expands legal consequences for violence committed or threatened after a divorce. Additionally, the law extends protection to families whose marriages are not recognized by the State. Prior to this new law, an abused woman who had a religious marriage, but who did not have a civil marriage certificate, could have been evicted from her home. The new law allows women an entitlement to property, alimony and inheritance, regardless of whether the marriage was religious or civil.
See Tajikstan moves toward a law to prevent domestic violence, UNWomen (March 15, 2013); Dilafruz Nabiyeva, Tajikistan fights domestic violence (March 4, 2013); Switzerland’s human rights activity in Tajikistan, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (April 10, 2013).