Laws against domestic violence in the United Kingdom
Domestic violence is a worldwide occurrence. And the reason as to why it is so subversive is because more often than not, it takes place behind closed doors. It is a phenomenon which is prevalent in all kinds of societies and all kinds of cultures. And while the term itself is gender neutral, domestic violence, in fact, is more likely to be levelled against women and girls, rather than men and boys. Different countries try to deal with domestic violence in different ways. The efficiency of the laws which are made, and the efficiency with which they are put to use, are important markers of exactly how progressive and developed a nation really is.
The laws against domestic violence in the U.K are a part of a general law against crime, but of late, the section dealing with domestic violence has become wider in terms of its reach, and in terms of its understanding of domestic violence as well as the number of situations in which it occurs. According to www.homeoffice.gov.uk, the definition of domestic violence, according to the government is, “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.” It must be noted that this law is neutral to all ethnic groups. It cannot be biased towards any particular ethnicity or race.
Of late, however, the government has been making substantial changes to this definition to make it more inclusive. Not just adults but minors who are 16 years or above will also be included as being victims of domestic violence, so their complaints will also come under the section of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 is the act which was established to fight domestic violence in the United Kingdom.
This law, under the Parliament of the United Kingdom, had been formed after extensive research, statistical data collection, and formal papers suggesting the ways in which this law can be made as effective as possible. Today, the law does not just recognize domestic violence amongst heterosexual couples. The law also recognizes the rights of same-sex couples and live-in partners. It recognizes the different kinds of domestic violence which exists, and the law also decides if a defendant is eligible to plead or not. This means that the judge, on the basis of the medical evidence he gets, can decide if the defendant can plead his case or not. Also, during the trials, for certain counts, there is a jury, but in on certain other counts, the case is taken over by the judge, and not the jury. The law also makes provisions for any harm inflicted upon children or senile senior members of the family.
The bailiffs, under cases filed for domestic violence, can forcible enter a residence, which is something which was not commonly practiced in the U.K. Also, the Home Office, with some assistance, published leaflets guiding women and girls about the kind of action they need to take against domestic violence. The leaflet covers a very wide range of crimes against women, and guides them on the steps they need to take. This was especially printed for the ethnic minorities in the U.K, and it also included crimes which were more prevalent amongst some of the ethnic communities.
According to an article by Daily Mail Online on the 18th of September, 2012, the law has been made more accommodating now. These changes recognize the phenomenon of Domestic Violence as being more than just physical in nature. Mind games, unnatural restrictions and financial manipulation are also issues which fall under domestic abuse. At the end of the day, though, it is about the change of a social construct. Of a certain perception which leads to domestic violence, which will truly bring about an eradication of this problem.