The Act: Legal definition of domestic violence

The act was proclaimed in 1997 and was amended in 2004. It follows the 1995 Beijing Conference which asked states to take legal actions to protect both women and men victims-survivors of domestic violence. This Act provides for the protection of people against domestic violence and aims at reducing and preventing domestic violence.

Legal definition of domestic violence

The Act defines domestic violence as:

  • Any act of physical, mental or sexual violence
  • Any attempt of such violence
  • The forcible restriction of individual freedom and of privacy, carried out against individuals who have or have had family or kinship ties or co-habit or dwell in the same home

As per Section 2 of the Act, domestic violence includes any of the following acts committed by a person against his spouse, a child of his spouse or another person living under the same roof:

  1. Wilfully causing or attempting to cause physical injury
  2. Wilfully or knowingly placing or attempting to place the spouse or the other person in fear of physical injury to himself/herself or to one of his/her children
  3. Intimidation, harassment, ill-treatment, brutality or cruelty
  4. Compelling the spouse or the other person by force or threat to engage in any conduct or act, sexual or otherwise, from which the spouse or the other person has the right to abstain
  5. Confining or detaining the spouse or the other person against his/her will
  6. Harming a child of the spouse
  7. Causing or attempting to cause damage to the spouse's or the other person's property
  8. Threatening to commit any act mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (g)

Protection under this Act may be sought by any individual having suffered from domestic violence. Hence the act applies to:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Person with whom that individual cohabits or has co-habited
  • Person with whom that individual has a child
  • Ascendant
  • Descendant
  • Sibling

In line with the Protection from Domestic Violence Act:

  • In the event of domestic violence the victim-survivor has the right to refer to the court to seek protection
  • In cases of direct and imminent threat to his/her life or health, the victim-survivor may file an application with the police authorities for the imposition of emergency measures. The court will issue an emergency court protection. In instances of wounds and blows the police will issue a Form 58 to be filled in by the medical doctor establishing in writing any injuries or traces of violence found.

The act provides for the issue of:

  • Protection Order
  • Occupation Order
  • Tenancy Order
  • Interim Orders
  • Ancillary order in respect of furniture