KUALA LUMPUR: The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2017 [DVA] will provide more protections to abuse victims, regardless of gender – Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said today.
According to Rohani, out of 5,100 domestic violence cases reported in 2015, 26 per cent of the victims were husbands.
"We notice that this is a new trend. Husbands are being abused too, not just the wives. This is why we are amending the Act.
"Previously, people said that the 1994 Act only protects wives, but with cases such as these, we are expanding it so that it can give protection to every single family member.
"It is high time for us to amend the Act, because according to police statistics from 2014 to 2016, there were 15,617 cases reported," she told a press conference at the Parliament's media centre here today.
Rohani had earlier tabled the amendment to the DVA for its first reading and had asked the House for permission to continue the second and third reading this week.
Key provisions in the proposed new law include the expansion of the Interim Protection Order (IPO) and Protection Order (PO) to include victims whose abusers attempt to steal from them, ore ones whose actions lead to victims’ depression.
It also protects victims against offenders who threaten them, or employ third parties to carry out violence against them; and offenders who contact victims to harass or embarrass them via any medium, including text messaging.
"Next is the Emergency Protection Order (EPO), which will provide temporary protection to victims. Usually, we need a PO from the court, but there's no court on the weekend.
"So, this Act will give power to district social welfare officers to issue an EPO any time, any day, and the EPO can be used for seven days," Rohani said.
Offenders who cause physical or non-physical harm to victims can be punished with a RM4,000 fine, or a one-year imprisonment, or both.
For second or subsequent violations, offenders will be punished with a RM5,000 fine, or a maximum two years’ imprisonment, or both.
Rohani further explained that the EPO acts as an immediate temporary protection for victims from their abusers, without them having to lodge a police report or go to court.
Under this provision, victims will be given exclusivity over her or his residence, wherein the offender (if they live there) must stay away from the dwelling for at least seven days for a "cooling period".
This is seen as an improvement from the previous 1994 Act, which allowed perpetrators to continue living with their victims under the same roof.
"As part of solving this problem, we will also introduce counselling and therapy sessions under the Women’s Ministry which will create awareness about family, financial management and emotional management," Rohani added.