Implementation of Domestic Violence Laws
Last updated May 2010

Many countries have enacted domestic violence legislation but the law remains unimplemented. See, for example, the chapter on Ghana in Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect! Dossier of Claims (2010), which states that there is a general lack of public awareness of the Domestic Violence Act (2007) of Ghana, and a lack of support services for victims. p. 57
 
A number of provisions are vital to the implementation of a new domestic violence law and should be included in legislation:

Legislation should name a state body as responsible for implementing the domestic violence law and a separate state body as responsible for monitoring the domestic violence law. For specific recommendations, see UN Handbook 3.3; Implementation of Legislation on Violence Against Women and Girls and Monitoring of Legislation on Violence against Women and Girls in the Legislation Module at www.endvawnow.org.

  • For example, the law of Spain provides for a State Observatory on Violence against Women to provide advice and analysis of gender violence matters, prepare reports and proposals for action, and supervise collaboration of the institutes involved. Article 30
  • The law of Guyana names the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security responsible for public awareness and educational programs and for conducting studies and publishing reports on domestic violence in Guyana. Part IV 44

Legislation should state that the state body or bodies responsible for implementing the law must work in collaboration with NGOs that provide direct service to domestic violence victims, police, prosecutors, judges, the health sector, and the education sector, to develop regulations, protocols, guidelines, instructions, directives, and standards, including standardized forms, so that the legislation may be implemented in a comprehensive and timely manner. UN Handbook 3.2.7

  • The law of Albania delegates clear responsibilities and duties to its Ministries in the implementation of the law:
    • c. Establish social and rehabilitation centres for victims and perpetrators and coordinate efforts with exiting ones, giving priority to specialised centres in respective fields. Article 7
      Duties of all responsible authorities
    • 1. Ministry of the Interior has the following duties:
      • a. To set up special units at the police departments to prevent and combat domestic violence
      • b. To train members of the police force to handle domestic violence cases
    • 2. Ministry of Health shall set up necessary structures to provide health care in domestic violence cases at the emergency units and at the health care centres in municipalities and communes, with a view to:
      • a. Offer at any time medical and psychological help to domestic violence victims,
      • b. To carry out necessary examinations at any time at respective public health institutions,
      • c. To record domestic violence cases at the appropriate medical documentations, as approved by the Ministry of Health
      • ç. To provide the victim with the respective medical report
      • d. To guide and refer the victim to other support and protection domestic violence services
    • 3. Ministry of Justice has the following duties:
      • a. To train the medico-legal experts in recognizing, diagnosing, evaluating and reporting on domestic violence and child abuse injuries;
      • b. To train the bailiffs on their duty to serve protection orders immediately and to ensure their implementation under Article 23 point 6 and to take appropriate action;
      • c. To budget for free legal assistance mandated under this act and ensure a sufficient number of trained lawyers to provide said assistance.
    • 4. Local authorities (municipalities, communes) have the following duties:
      • a. To engage in setting up social services structures for domestic violence cases
      • b. To install regional 24-hour toll free telephone line, which will then establish links to local units, police, medical emergency units and NPOs, thereby coordinating their actions
        • 1. Each of responsible authorities has the duty to set up the necessary structures and to nominate those individuals responsible for the implementation of this law. The Ministry of LSAEO shall supervise fulfilment of this obligation. Article 8

PROMISING PRACTCE: 

  • The Violence in the Family Prevention and Protection of Victims Laws (2000 and 2004) of Cyprus (hereinafter law of Cyprus) established an Advisory Committee to research domestic violence, promote services for and public awareness of domestic violence, and to monitor these activities. The Advisory Committee is to be comprised of persons with knowledge and experience in the area. The Council of Ministers may also appoint a multidisciplinary group with expertise in issues relating to child victims of violence. Part III 7 (1) and (2) and 8 (1) and (2)

Legislation should require regular training for police, judicial officials and service providers who implement the law. See: UN Handbook 3.2.3; and UN Model Framework VII C, D, and E. The draft updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice calls for trainings on relevant laws and programmes, identifying and responding to the specific needs of women victims, avoiding secondary victimization, conducting safety assessments, and the use and enforcement of protection orders. See: Report of the Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting to review and update the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (2009). For example, see: law of India:

  • The Central Government and every State Government, shall take all measures to insure that the Central Government and State Government officers including the police officers and the members of the judicial services are given periodic sensitization and awareness training on the issues addressed by [The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act]. Ch III, 11 (b)

PROMISING PRACTICE:

  • The law of Brazil requires “permanent trainings” of law enforcement and judiciary officials not only on gender issues, but also on race and ethnicity issues. Article 8

CASE STUDY:

  • Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative Produces Annual Monitoring Reports and Training Materials to Promote Implementation of the Domestic Violence Law in India.
  • In 2005, India passed a law on domestic violence entitled "Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA)." In 2006 the Lawyer's Collective Women's Rights Initiative (LCWRI) received funding from the Global Trust Fund to assist the government in implementing and monitoring the new law. This funding has allowed LCWRI to prepare training manuals and other instructive materials for judicial officers, protection officers, and others charged with implementing and monitoring the domestic violence law.
  • LCWRI, in collaboration with The International Center for Research on Women, also published an annual report detailing its efforts to monitor the law and evaluating the progress made over the course of the year. To date, LCWRI has published three such reports, two of which are available on LCWRI's website. LCWRI received additional funding from the Global Trust Fund in 2008 to continue its work in monitoring and implementing India's domestic violence law. LCWRI works alongside other organizations that sponsored the domestic violence law to gather and analyze data from across India. Using this data, LCWRI and other organizations determine where progress has been made and where more work is needed. See: http://www.lawyerscollective.org/wri; and Monitoring Laws on Violence Against Women and Girls in the Legislation Module at www.endvawnow.org.
  • Legislation should also require adequate and sustained funding for all aspects of implementation so that the law can be effective. See: UN Handbook 3.2.2.

PROMISING PRACTICES:

  • The law of Philippines requires funding to implement the law. Section 45
  • Draft Bill: The United States Senate draft bill (s.2279) International Violence Against Women Act (2007) (I-VAWA), if enacted, would provide US government financial support to programmes to end violence against women and girls around the world. I-VAWA will focus on legal reform, capacity-building, support services, professional training, the prevention of violence, and public awareness campaigns. I-VAWA was drafted by a coalition of agencies including United Nations agencies and women’s NGOs in the US and other countries.

Legislation should require creation of a national plan or strategy on domestic violence UN Handbook 3.2.1. See: The UN Secretary-General’s database on violence against women for the National Action Plans of many countries.

Legislation should require data collection on domestic violence reports which is disaggregated by sex, gender, race, age, ethnicity and other relevant characteristics. UN Handbook 3.3.2.

Legislation should require data collection on specific aspects relating to the implementation of the new law, such as: number of orders for protection granted, denied, cancelled, appealed, etc. These should be kept and made available publicly. In addition, qualitative data about the effectiveness of orders for protection should be gathered on a regular basis from police, courts, relevant government ministries, counseling centers and shelters, and from complainant/survivors. Legislation should require that this data be compiled by the relevant government ministry and published on an annual basis. See UN Handbook 3.3.2; Monitoring Laws on Violence Against Women and Girls in the Legislation Module at www.endvawnow.org

Legislation should require public awareness programs on domestic violence. See: law of Spain; law of India, Ch. III, para. 11; UN Handbook 3.5.2; and Council of Europe General Recommendation (2002)5, Appendix, paras. 6-13.

Legislation should require education on domestic violence for all grade levels which includes information on relevant laws. See: Council of Europe General Recommendation (2002)5, Appendix, 14-16; UN Handbook 3.5.3; and the law of Spain, which includes detailed provisions for inclusion of information on gender violence at all levels of its educational curricula, including training of teachers. Article 4, Article 7.