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Domestic Violence Bill Welcomed

Minister of Gender Affairs, the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly

Deputy Premier and Minister of District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, JP, has welcomed The Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill, 2009.

If approved in the Legislative Assembly, the bill would update and repeal the 17-year-old Summary Jurisdiction (Domestic Violence) Law, in order to provide better protection for victims and potential victims of domestic violence.

It has been circulated for public discussion by the Law Reform Commission. The discussion period ends on Monday, 30 November, following an extension from the original 20 November deadline.

"I am encouraging members of the public to give their suggestions and recommendations on this key law, which is only going to strengthen our families and thereby the fabric of our community," Minister O'Connor-Connolly said.

"This is a very important piece of legislation, as it gives social services officers, law enforcement and prosecutors better tools with which to advocate for those affected by domestic violence."

The bill defines more specifically what actions constitute domestic violence; details who is protected; defines who is considered a child under the law; types of court orders available; and who may initiate proceedings.

According to the bill, "a person commits an act of domestic violence against a prescribed person where it is proved that his conduct caused or is intended to cause emotional or psychological; financial, physical or sexual abuse."

"The expanded definition of what constitutes domestic violence is a major step forward, as it gives broader coverage to victims; we know from experience that domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse," the Minister said.

Gender Affairs Policy Advisor in the Ministry, Tammy Ebanks Bishop also welcomed the legislation.

She explained that the review of this legislation came about as a result of the recommendations contained in the special report on gender violence, which was submitted to Cabinet in December 2008 by a special advisory committee on gender violence. Ms Ebanks Bishop noted that the Law Reform Commission's explanatory paper and the draft bill was circulated for comment to various government and non-government stakeholders, who deal with the issue of domestic violence.

She is pleased with various expansions of definitions and provisions being proposed in the new bill, which aim to provide protection to the most vulnerable people who are, or who may become, victims of domestic violence.

For more information, or to provide feedback on the Protection against Domestic Violence Bill, please visit Features on the home page of www.gov.ky.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes