Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
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Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence Laws

Last edited: October 29, 2010

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International law issues

Example: In 2011 The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference began conducting research for the purpose of determining whether a new international treaty should be developed to ensure the recognition and enforcement of civil protection orders across international borders. The Hague Conference published a Preliminary Note in March, 2012 which details the difficulties faced by survivors of domestic violence when crossing international borders, explores the existing and proposed legal models for addressing the problem and identifies further steps the Conference may wish to take on the issue. Hague Conference on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Protection Orders.

Example: On May 22, 2013, the European Commission voted to approve a regulation to extend the coverage of protection orders for victims of gender violence, as well as stalking and harassment victims. The aim is to make all such protection orders recognized throughout the European Union in order to ensure victim safety throughout the region. Although the regulation protects the “physical and psychological integrity” of all victims, additional elements such as guaranteed access to battered women services reflect the Commission’s focus on women survivors in particular.

Protective order certificates will still be issued by the state in which the protection order was granted but will be available online at no cost in order to further simplify the process of transferring it from one member state to the next. The certificate holder must then notify the member state’s police for the order to go into effect. The person against whom the protective order has been filed will also be made aware that it extends throughout the EU. The protective order certificates will be multilingual and uniform throughout the region and will include detailed information about the victim’s aggressor.

The projected date of implementation is no later than 2015. The Commission will monitor member states to ensure implementation and enforcement of the regulation and will provide expert assistance and implementation guidelines.

See Nielsen, Nikolaj, “Victims of Violence Set for EU-wide Protection,” EUobserver (May 22, 2013).


CASE STUDY: Obtaining redress for domestic violence through human rights bodies

Plaintiffs in domestic violence cases have been successful in obtaining redress against states through various international bodies:

Eremia v. Moldova: In 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Moldovan authorities failed to prevent a police officer from repeatedly beating his wife in front of their two daughters. The court awarded the complainant/survivor and her daughters more than €17,000. The court held that even though authorities had knowledge of the abuse they failed to take effective measures against the offender and to protect the complainant/survivor from future violence. It also found that despite detrimental psychological effects of her daughters witnessing the violence, authorities took little or no action to prevent its recurrence.

A.T v. Hungary: In 2005, the CEDAW Committee, found that the complainant, although she sought help from Hungarian civil and criminal courts and child protection authorities, did not receive any assistance or protection from the Hungarian government. The case involved allegations of severe domestic violence. The Committee found that Hungary had violated the rights of A.T. under the Convention, and made recommendations to Hungary that it act to protect the safety of the author and act more generally to effect the rights granted under the Convention.

Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria: In 2008, The European Court of Human Rights found that Bulgaria had violated its obligations under Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by requiring the domestic violence victim to prosecute the case. The Court awarded costs and damages to the applicants. The case is significant as the first domestic violence case to be decided in the European Court of Human Rights.

Opuz v. Turkey:  In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey had failed to use due diligence to protect the plaintiff from domestic violence, as it was required to do under the European Convention on Human Rights and CEDAW, and awarded the plaintiff damages.



Survivors and asylum law

  • Legislation should provide that complainants/survivors who do not have legal status are not subjected to immigration sanctions, including deportation, when they report violence to authorities.
  • Legislation should allow complainants/survivors who do not have legal status to apply for legal status in confidence and independently from the perpetrator.

Example: The Denmark Justice Ministry has proposed a law that would protect foreign victims of domestic violence from being deported if they end their relationship with the offender. Currently foreigners who have been granted residency based on their relationship with a Danish citizen are deported if they leave the relationship within two years of being granted residency status. As a result, many survivors of domestic violence choose to stay in an abusive relationship rather than risk deportation. The Justice Ministry acknowledged that it was never the goal of the law to keep people in violent relationships. It therefore proposed the measure to allow survivors to stay in the country regardless of how long they have been there if other conditions are met. See Law Gives Support to Foreign Domestic Abuse Victims, The Copenhagen Post (February 1, 2013).

(See: UN Handbook ch. 3.7.1; VAWA, USA; and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002) of Canada.)