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
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