Definition of Domestic Violence

last updated December 2014

 

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.


Definition of Domestic Violence


  • Legislation should include a broad definition of domestic violence that includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence. In 2008, a group of experts at meetings convened by the United Nations recommended that “any definition of domestic violence that includes psychological and/or economic violence is enforced in a gender-sensitive and appropriate manner. Legislation should include the following provision in a definition of domestic violence: “No marriage or other relationship shall constitute a defence to a charge of sexual domestic violence under this legislation.” (See: UN Handbook, 3.4.3.1)
  • Drafters should strive to make the scope of persons to be protected by a domestic violence law clear and reflective of current reality and the dynamics of widow maltreatment. The scope of domestic violence legislation has, in many countries, been expanded to include not only married couples but those who are or have been in intimate relationships, as well as family members and members of the same household. (See: UN Handbook, 3.4.2.2) Legislation protecting widows from domestic violence should ensure that the scope of persons includes widows’ in-laws, including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins of the deceased, as well as any other heirs of the deceased under intestacy or customary laws.

 

See the Domestic Violence section of this module for more information.