President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has today ratified the Domestic Violence Bill – the first piece of legislation to be approved by him since taking office on February 7. The bill was passed by the parliament on April 9 and how now been approved by the president, allowing it to come into force as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
This act defines domestic violence as an attack against someone by any other person with whom that they are presently, or have been in a domestic relationship. It also provides protection for victims of domestic violence and seeks to punish the perpetrators of such crimes.
According to the President’s Office, some of the objectives of the act include; declaring all acts of domestic violence as a punishable crime, giving protection and safety to victims of domestic violence and giving cost-effective, due and timely justice to victims of domestic violence.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act also includes frameworks for conducting programmes to support victims of domestic violence. This includes setting out measures for taking all necessary steps to prevent domestic violence, whilst rehabilitating perpetrators of such crimes and facilitating the implementation of court orders and orders from other law enforcement authorities to prevent domestic violence.
Speaking after ratifying the bill, President Waheed announced that the Family Protection Authority (FPA), which is required to be established under the act, would be formed soon. The president has pledged to appoint the seven member FPA board without any further delay.
UN Women, which provided detailed inputs on the draft bill with other United Nations agencies has meanwhile welcomed the passage of the law and pledged its full support to consolidate the Act.
“This is a remarkable gain for the women of Maldives,” said Anne F. Stenhammer, the Regional Programme Director of UN Women in South Asia in a statement released last week.
“We hope to work together with the government and other UN agencies to raise awareness of the law and help in its implementation.”
Michiyo Yamada, Gender Specialist at the UN Women Maldives organisation added that her office has been working together with other UN agencies to support the government in developing the 4th and 5th combined state report for the Convention on The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“Addressing violence against women is one of the key areas highlighted in the previous concluding remarks in 2007. UN Women hopes to support the Maldives in implementing the UN Secretary General’s Campaign, UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, which aims at adopting national laws and multi-sectoral action plans and collecting data on the prevalence of violence against women and girls.” Yamada observed.
According to a national survey on “Women’s Health and Life Experiences”, which was conducted with the support of UNFPA, UNICEF and the WHO, one in every three Maldivian women aged between 15 and 49 reported experiencing some form of physical or sexual violence at least once.
Information from Family Protection Units confirm such a prevalence, and indicate that 87 per cent of perpetrators are known to the survivors.