Effectiveness of anti-domestic violence law comes under scrutiny

Enquiries are being asked about the effectiveness of anti-domestic violence law 20 years after its enactment. Exactly how effective has the present 20-year-old Domestic Violence Act (DVA) been in relations of providing justice to victims?

This is the enquiry under debate at an inter-sectoral dialogue presented by UCT’s Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Wits City Institute and the Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape. John Jeffery Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development stated that at the time after the DVA, nowadays under evaluation, was implemented, it was considered an extremely advanced part of legislation that strongly attentive on victims. Jeffery said secondary victimisation originating from certain systematic dysfunctionalities also contributed to the early departure of victims from the system that results in a blocked system of incomplete applications for temporary protection orders. 

This remained a serious challenge that would be considered when reviewing the DVA. Jeffery said the process of reviewing the DVA 20 years after it was formed had begun. People who experienced domestic violence could also go to a magistrate’s court or to the police station, however once reporting an incident but there was still a tendency for police to mention victims of domestic violence to the court instead since they might not consider it as a high risk situation.

The investigation will be led by the South African Law Reform Commission, working with specialists in the domestic violence sector. The investigation is expected to launch next month.

By: Ellouise Muller


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