Domestic Violence

Last Updated March 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.


Domestic Violence


Legislation should state the penalties for all acts of domestic violence. Widows may be vulnerable to domestic violence by in-laws and other relatives for various reasons, such as economic hardship due to discriminatory inheritance laws, lack of housing or shelter, patriarchal notions that discriminate against women, and a lack of legal protections. For example, in-laws may resort to violence and other harassment as a tactic to evict the widow from the marital home or intimidate her. Legislation should prohibit payment of bride price or other customary traditions that grant the deceased spouse’s relatives ownership over the deceased’s home or property as defenses to charges of domestic violence. Criminal penalties should be increased for repeated domestic violence offenses, even if they involve low-level injury. (See: Family Violence:  A Model State Code, Sec. 203) Legislation should specify that penalties for crimes involving domestic violence should be more severe than similar non-domestic violence-related crimes. Legislation should include guidelines for appropriate sentences for domestic violence-related offenses. Legislation should provide that sentencing guidelines reflect the gravity of the offense. Legislation should provide that sentencing be enhanced for repeat offenses, including repeated violations of orders for protection.


See the section on Domestic Violence legislation in this module for more information.