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Implementation of domestic violence laws

Although many countries have enacted domestic violence legislation, many of those laws have yet to be implemented. Effective implementation requires numerous factors including appropriate government mechanisms, sufficient resources and political will.  Well-crafted legislation can lay the groundwork for effective implementation.

 The following provisions are vital to the implementation of a new domestic violence law and should be included in legislation:

Examples:

Article 30 of the Law of Spain provides for a State Observatory on Violence against Women to provide advice and analysis of gender violence matters, prepare reports and proposals for action, and supervise collaboration of the institutes involved. 

Section 44 of the Guyana Domestic Violence Act (hereinafter  “Law of Guyana”) makes the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security responsible for public awareness and educational programs and for conducting studies and publishing reports on domestic violence in Guyana. 

 

  • Legislation should state that the governmental body or bodies responsible for implementing the law must work in collaboration with those sectors of society that interact with domestic violence. These sectors should include NGOs that provide direct service to domestic violence victims, police, prosecutors, judges,  health  care  and  education. The legislation should direct the identified sectors to develop regulations, protocols, guidelines, instructions, directives, and standards, including standardized forms to ensure comprehensive and timely implementation of the legislation. UN Handbook, Ch. 3.2.6.

 

The Law of Albania delegates clear responsibilities and duties to the country's ministries to implement the law:

Duties of other Responsible Authorities

1. Ministry of the Interior has the following duties:

a. To set up special units at the police departments to prevent and combat domestic violence

b. To train members of the police force to handle domestic violence cases

 2. Ministry of Health shall set up necessary structures to provide health care in  domestic violence cases at the emergency units and at the health care centres in municipalities and communes, with a view to:

a. Offer at any time medical and psychological help to domestic violence victims,

b. To carry out necessary examinations at any time at respective public health institutions,

c. To record domestic violence cases at the appropriate medical documentations,as approved by the Ministry of Health

ç. To provide the victim with the respective medical report

d. To guide and refer the victim to other support and protection domestic violence services

3. Ministry of Justice has the following duties:

a. To train the medico-legal experts in recognizing, diagnosing, evaluating and reporting on domestic violence and child abuse injuries;

b. To train the bailiffs on their duty to serve protection orders immediately and to ensure their implementation under Article 23 point 6 and to take appropriate action;

c. To budget for free legal assistance mandated under this act and ensure a sufficient number of trained lawyers to provide said assistance.

4. Local authorities (municipalities, communes) have the following duties:

a. To engage in setting up social services structures for domestic violence cases

b. To install regional 24-hour toll free telephone line, which will then establish links to local units, police, medical emergency units and NPOs, thereby coordinating their actions

c. Establish social and rehabilitation centres for victims and perpetrators and coordinate efforts with exiting ones, giving priority to specialised centres in respective fields. Article 7

 Duties of all responsible authorities

1. Each of responsible authorities has the duty to set up the necessary structures and to nominate those individuals responsible for the implementation of this law. The Ministry of LSAEO shall supervise fulfilment of this obligation. Article 8

Example: The Violence in the Family Prevention and Protection of Victims Laws (2000 and 2004) of Cyprus (hereinafter Law of Cyprus) established an Advisory Committee to research domestic violence, promote services for and public awareness of domestic violence, and to monitor these activities. The Advisory Committee is to be comprised of persons with knowledge and experience in the area. The Council of Ministers may also appoint a multidisciplinary group with expertise in issues relating to child victims of violence. Part III 7 (1) and (2) and 8 (1) and (2).

  • Legislation should require regular training for police, judicial officials and service providers who implement the law. (UN Handbook, ch. 3.2.3; and UN Model Framework section VII C, D, and E).

A resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations to strengthen prevention and criminal justice response to violence against women calls for trainings on relevant laws and programmes, identifying and responding to the specific needs of women victims, avoiding secondary victimization, conducting safety assessments, and the use and enforcement of protection orders. See: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 65/228. Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women, Annex (31 March 2011).

Example: Law of India:

The Central Government and every State Government, shall take all measures to insure that the Central Government and State Government officers including the police officers and the members of the judicial services are given periodic sensitization and awareness training on the issues addressed by [The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act]. Ch III, 11 (b)

Example: The law of Brazil requires “permanent trainings” of law enforcement and judiciary officials not only on gender issues, but also on race and ethnicity issues. Article 8.

 

Example: Tajikistan trains police officers for specialized domestic violence units. In 2010, Tajikistan, with the support of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, held a weeklong training to educate police officers on the issues involved with working with victims of domestic violence.

The twenty officers involved in the inaugural training, from the cities of Dushanbe, Kurgan Tube, Kulyab and Khujand, are to become part of specialized domestic violence units established under the State Program on Gender Equality after a March 2010 Interior Ministry decision. The trainings were also to be included in the curriculum of the Interior Ministry Police Academy.

Officers learned skills to more effectively investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases in addition to being trained to refer victims to relevant official and community resources. The training, led by two Turkish and United States law enforcement officers, covers the importance of using gender-sensitive and democratic police methods and the value of encouraging cooperation between crisis centers and civil society. Finally, the training will provide background information on the social and cultural roots of domestic and gender-based violence.

See OSCE Office in Tajikistan Helps Train Police Officers in Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (June 16, 2010).

Case Study: Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative Produces Annual Monitoring Reports and Training Materials To Promote Implementation of the Domestic Violence Law in India

In 2005, India passed the "Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA)."  In 2006 the Lawyer's Collective Women's Rights Initiative (LCWRI) received funding from the Global Trust Fund to assist the government in implementing and monitoring the new law. This funding has allowed LCWRI to prepare training manuals and other instructive materials for judicial officers, protection officers, and others charged with implementing and monitoring the domestic violence law.

LCWRI, in collaboration with The International Center for Research on Women, also published an annual report detailing its efforts to monitor the law and evaluating the progress made over the course of the year.  The LCWRI has published numerous reports, which are available on LCWRI's website. LCWRI works alongside other organizations that sponsored the domestic violence law to gather and analyze data from across India.  Using this data, LCWRI and other organizations determine where progress has been made and where more work is needed. (See: Lawyer’s Collective Women’s Rights Initiative; and the Monitoring of Laws section of this module.)

Example: the Law of Philippines requires funding to implement the law. Section 45.

Example: The United States Senate draft bill (S.2279) International Violence Against Women Act (2007) (I-VAWA), if enacted, would provide US government financial support to programmes to end violence against women and girls around the world. I-VAWA will focus on legal reform, capacity-building, support services, professional training, the prevention of violence, and public awareness campaigns. I-VAWA was drafted by a coalition of agencies including United Nations agencies and women’s NGOs in the US and other countries.

  • Legislation should require data collection on domestic violence reports that are disaggregated by sex, race, age, ethnicity and other relevant characteristics. UN Handbook, ch. 3.3.2.
  • Legislation should require collection of data on specific aspects of implementation of the law, including number of protection orders granted, denied, cancelled, appealed, etc. This data should be maintained and made available to the public. In addition, qualitative data about the effectiveness of orders for protection should be gathered on a regular basis from police, courts, relevant government ministries, counseling centers and shelters, and from complainants/ survivors. Legislation should require that this data be compiled by the appropriate government ministry and published annually. (See UN Handbook Ch. 3.3.2; Monitoring of Laws section of this module, and the Conducting research, data collection and analysis section of the  Programming Essentials,Monitoring and Evaluation module.
  • Legislation should require education on domestic violence for all grade levels which that includes information on relevant laws. (See Council of Europe General Recommendation (2002)5, Appendix, paragraphs 14-16; UN Handbook Ch. 3.5.3; and the Law of Spain, which includes detailed provisions for inclusion of information on gender violence at all levels of its educational curricula, including training of teachers. Article 4, Article 7. 

For more detailed information on implementing laws, see Implementation of Laws in this module.

Monitoring of Domestic Violence Laws

Effective implementation of domestic violence laws requires monitoring to identify strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the law and in how it is being carried out. It is critical that legislation provide regular, comprehensive monitoring by an objective entity.

Examples of Domestic Violence Assessment and Monitoring Tools: Documenting the Implementation of Domestic Violence Laws: A Human Rights Methodology, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Advocates for Human Rights (May 2011)  in English and Russian; and Droesen, Loeky DOVA Human Rights Assessment Instrument on Domestic Violence (2010).

For more detailed information, see the Monitoring and Evaluation section of the Programming Essentials, Monitoring and Evaluation module.