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Lethality or risk assessments

Legislation should mandate that the police, prosecutors, and the judiciary investigate the level of risk to domestic and dowry-related violence victims.  Such assessments are vital to determining the risk of further injury to the victim, or homicide, and should play an important role in police and judicial response to each case. See: Duties of police, Duties of prosecutors, and Duties of judiciary sections, above. Also, the UN DAW Expert Group Meeting in its report on Good Practices in Legislation on “Harmful Practices against Women” (2009) recommends that laws mandate medical officials to report to police any case of grievous bodily harm caused by fire, kerosene oil, or other stove-related matter and mandate police to investigate these cases (Section 3.3.5.2). Similarly, the report mandates medical personnel to report any case of bodily harm caused by acid to police (Section 3.3.6.2).

Such an assessment should include such questions, such as “Have you been choked?” “Does he possess a firearm or other weapon and has he threatened to use it?” “Have you ever suffered injuries from a stove or kerosene or otherwise been burned?” or “Has your husband or his relatives been asking you or your family for dowry, and if so, what is the full history and were those demands met?” “Has there been a history of physical violence against the bride or her relatives by the husband or his relatives?” The assessment can give the legal system and the complainant/survivor important information to prepare for her safety.  See:  Report of the Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting to review and update the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Bangkok, 23-25 March 2009, Section IV, 16 (f).

 

Promising practice:  The Alberta Relationship Threat Assessment and Management Initiative of Alberta, Canada is a domestic violence threat assessment unit that involves academic specialists, family law experts, child intervention case workers, police, and prosecutors. It coordinates the efforts of justice officials and community organizations to more effectively address threats posed in violent, high-risk relationships and stalking situations. It also serves as a resource for police, domestic violence shelters, corrections officials, mental health workers, and communities.