Women's Aid Welcomes Amendments to the Domestic Violence Act

5 Aug 2011

  • The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 makes long campaigned for changes to extend legal protection from domestic violence
  • Parents with a child in common are now able to apply for Safety orders regardless of cohabitation
  • Cohabiting partners can now apply for Safety Orders without any specific duration of cohabitation required
  • Same sex cohabitants are now eligible for orders under the Domestic Violence Act in the same way as opposite sex cohabitants

Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, today welcomed the enactment of the Civil Law Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2011, which implements much needed and welcome amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, 1996.

Ms Martin said "Women's Aid has been concerned about gaps in eligibility for orders under the Domestic Violence Act, 1996 for many years. In particular, women experiencing domestic violence who had a child with their abusive partner, but had never lived together with him, were not eligible to apply for domestic violence orders. This was a huge gap until now. Where there is a child in common there is generally continued contact between the parents and each contact presents an opportunity to the woman's partner to continue to intimidate and abuse her.

As a key national organisation that has been supporting women for over 35 years we have seen this situation happen again and again. We are therefore delighted that this gap has been addressed and congratulate Minister Shatter on this achievement".

The amendments also mean that the requirement that cohabiting partners need to have cohabited for a minimum period of 6 out of the previous 12 months in order to be eligible for Safety Orders has been dropped. Therefore, cohabitants partners are now eligible to apply for Safety Orders without any specific duration of cohabitation required.

Ms Martin continued " Women's Aid regularly works with women experiencing very severe violence, who were denied a Safety order in the past because they had not lived with the abuser for the required 6 out of the previous 12 months.

We often see cases where women separating from a violent partner hoped that leaving him would end the violence. By the time they realised that this was not the case and that the abuse was going to continue, it was often too late to apply for protection against a former cohabitant partner. The dropping of the minimum time requirement is very significant and will provide protection for many more women who need it.

While welcoming the present amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, Ms Martin noted that dating partners remain outside the protection of domestic violence legislation and she expressed hope that the Government would introduce further changes in legislation to address this.

The Women's Aid Helpline is open from 10am - 10pm, 7 days a week

1800 341 900

Ends

 

For more information contact:

Laura Shehan at 01-8684721 or 087-9192457

Case studies available at https://www.womensaid.ie/media/casestudies.html

 

Notes to Editors

  • Women's Aid is a leading national organisation, which provides support and information to women experiencing domestic violence. Women's Aid operates a National Freephone Helpline Service and a Dublin based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service. Women's Aid also refers to local refuges and support services around the country.
  • The Women's Aid Helpline responded to 10,055 calls in 2010. There were 430 one to one support visits and 164 court accompaniments. There were 8351 incidents of emotional abuse disclosed and 3031 incidents of physical abuse.
  • 588 incidents of sexual abuse were recorded, which is traditionally not disclosed by women experiencing domestic violence, with 213 rapes within relationships being reported to the service.