Last Updated February 2015
In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.
Civil claim for compensation
Legislation should provide widows the right to a civil claim for compensation for harms suffered, such as violence or property grabbing. Such a claim should give the victim the option of suing for an injunction, restitution of the property or cash compensation. Legislation should include provisions which provide for restitution or compensation to the complainant/survivor either through the criminal proceedings or through a separate tort law. (See: UN Handbook 3.11.5) Legislation should abolish requirements that forbid women to bring lawsuits against her in-laws, or that require the consent of a family member to bring a lawsuit. (See: UN Handbook 3.12.1) Laws should provide for legal aid to assist widows in bringing such claims.
For example, Act 521 of the Laws of the law of Malaysia addresses compensation in the context of domestic violence. It states that a victim of domestic violence is entitled to compensation in the court’s discretion:
Where a victim of domestic violence suffers personal injuries or damage to property or financial loss as a result of the domestic violence, the court hearing a claim for compensation may award such compensation in respect of the injury or damage or loss as it deems just and reasonable.
(2) The court hearing a claim for such compensation may take into account—
(a) the pain and suffering of the victim, and the nature and extent of the physical or mental injury suffered;
(b) the cost of medical treatment for such injuries;
(c) any loss of earnings arising therefrom;
(d) the amount or value of the property taken or destroyed or damaged;
(e) necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by or on behalf of the victim when the victim is compelled to separate or be separated from the defendant due to the domestic violence, such as—
(i) lodging expenses to be contributed to a safe place or shelter;
(ii) transport and moving expenses;
(iii) the expenses required in setting up a separate household which, subject to subsection (3), may include amounts representing such housing loan payments or rental payments or part thereof, in respect of the shared residence, or alternative residence, as the case may be, for such period as the court considers just and reasonably necessary. (Part III,10)
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