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
Related Tools

Civil Lawsuits for Damages and Compensation

Last edited: March 01, 2011

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Laws should provide victims and their heirs a civil tort remedy in cases of dowry demands, violence, harassment and death. Legislation should provide dowry-related violence victims with a civil tort remedy for claims of assault, battery, false imprisonment, international or reckless infliction of emotional distress, international interference with child custody, visitation or parent-child relationship, extortion, third-party negligence and wrongful death. See: Brian K. Zoeller and Patrick Schmiedt, Suing the Abuser: Tort Remedies for Domestic Violence, Victim Advocate, Spring 2004.

Laws and the judiciary must allow for flexibility in tort and domestic violence laws that take into account the dynamics of domestic violence and battered women’s syndrome, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. See: Health Effects of Domestic Violence, The Advocates for Human Rights. Laws should allow a victim to sue for all violent acts in one cause of action by stating that the statute of limitations does not start until the domestic violence stops entirely. In Giovine v. Giovine, a New Jersey appellate case, the victim filed a tort action against her abuser. Because the case involved a long history of violence, separations and reunions over several years, the defendant alleged the statute of limitations barred all actions as a defense. Importantly, the court recognized that the statute of limitations may be tolled if the plaintiff can show she suffered from battered women’s syndrome that prevented her from taking action to change her marital circumstances. Thus, all acts of violence could comprise a single cause of action for which the statute of limitations would not begin until the last act of violence. See: 663 A.2d 109, 118 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div 1995).