17 July 2002
Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Rapporteur: Mrs Olga Keltošová, Slovakia, European Democratic Group
In Europe, every week, one woman is killed by her husband or partner. Domestic violence is a serious violation of human rights which affects the victims’ lives in a number of fields.
Domestic violence occurs in all countries, irrespective of class, race or level of education of the people concerned. Domestic violence is a question of power and an attempt to maintain a relationship of inequality between men and women and to perpetuate the subordination of women. Measures to prevent domestic violence should tackle the root of this problem and combine victims’ support with preventive and legal measures. All governments should do everything possible to combat discrimination against women in all spheres of life and to guarantee them the same opportunities and choices that men have.
The Assembly calls on the member states to recognise domestic violence in national legislation as criminal offence and to take the necessary measures to prevent, investigate and punish these acts in order to protect the victims.
I. Draft recommendation
1. Domestic violence is a most common form of violence against women and its consequences affect many areas of the lives of victims — housing, health, education and the freedom to live their lives without fear and in the way they wish. This widespread phenomenon is common to all European countries and is not limited to any particular social group or class. Domestic violence can take a number of forms such as physical assault, sexual abuse and rape, threats and intimidation and should be recognised as a crime.
2. Violence committed within the family is still considered to be a private matter. Statistics shows that for women between 16 and 44 years of age, domestic violence is thought to be the major cause of death and invalidity, ahead of cancer, road accidents and even war. Therefore, domestic violence should be treated as political and public problem, concerning human rights violation.
3. The Assembly recalls the Final declaration adopted at the Second Summit of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg,1997), Assembly Recommendation 1450 (2000) on violence against women and Committee of Ministers Recommendation(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence in which all forms of violence against women have been condemned as being a general violation of their rights as human beings.
4. The Assembly considers acts of domestic violence to be criminal acts and calls on the member states to recognise that they have an obligation to prevent, investigate and punish the acts of domestic violence and to provide protection to victims.
5. Taking into account the hidden nature of domestic violence, the Assembly urges governments to introduce effective awareness-raising policies and information campaigns to inform and educate the population on this problem. Each government should obtain objective information and data on the dimension of these crimes.
6. The Assembly recognises the importance of the development of community intervention strategies at local levels, aimed at the co-ordination of inter-agency cooperation and the mobilisation of financial and human resources in the fight against domestic violence, calling on people to take responsibility for change where they live and work.
7. Therefore the Assembly calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to:
A. adopt the following measures regarding victims of domestic violence
i. to provide victims of domestic violence with free legal advice and assistance before taking legal action;
ii. to help victims of domestic violence, by opening residential centres where women can receive psychological support and by giving financial support to welfare associations and emergency services;
iii. to insure effective protection for victims of violence after the incident and during the whole legal procedure;
iv. to give special financial support to non-governmental organisations as well as to women’s associations working with victims of domestic violence;
v. to adopt or reinforce social protection measures so that injuries caused to women and children by violent acts are provided for under social protection schemes;
vi. to promote the training of professionals working with young people, as well as health personnel, to identify children and adolescents growing up in violent homes and to take the necessary measures to help and assist them;
vii. to ensure the training of medical personnel to enable them to identify victims of violence;
viii. to grant immigrant women who have been or who are victims of domestic violence an independent right of residence.
B. take the following steps regarding the prevention of domestic violence
i. to improve statistics on domestic violence, to give a clear picture of its nature and prevalence, to enable the identification of resources addressing it, and to enable the evaluation of initiatives to tackle it;
ii. to develop a partnership between the authorities responsible for the protection of women‘s rights and regional and local authorities in order to increase the number of rehabilitation centres and shelters for women-victims of domestic violence;
iii. to promote continuing cooperation and understanding between the police, government departments and non-governmental organisations on the problems and dangers associated with domestic violence;
iv. to develop action plans in co-operation with women’s non-governmental organisations in order to create a general climate where domestic violence is rejected;
v. to launch through the media national awareness campaigns against domestic violence;
vi. to organise training for people who deal with victims of domestic violence: health care staff, police and social workers;
vii. to start gender equality education and education on non-violent behaviour at a very early stage and to ensure an adequate training for teachers on the issue of domestic violence and gender equality;
viii. to encourage citizens through educational programmes to accept their responsibilities, and take positive steps to reduce and prevent domestic violence incidents in the society;
ix. to increase state funding to support the social services dealing with this problem of domestic violence;
x. to encourage the media to cover in a regular, objective and non-biased manner the problem of domestic violence; the mass media should also try to educate the public about the causes and consequences of domestic violence;
xi. to encourage women to learn self-defence techniques;
xii. to elaborate proper training programmes for the perpetrators of violence against women;
xiii. to develop special information programmes for men with the aim of preventing acts of domestic violence;
C. provide for the following legal measures
i. national legislation should prohibit all forms of domestic violence and introduce effective legal provisions, including the immediate removal of the violent partner from the common household and the environment of the woman and her children, without prior proof and on the first complaint without waiting for the court order;
ii. the concept of domestic violence should be defined in national legislations in such a way that it is treated as a serious criminal offence whatever its form;
iii. in view of the legal and institutional reform aimed at establishing more effective systems for protecting women against domestic violence, a review of existing national laws and comprehensive research are necessary ;
iv. conjugal rape should be made a criminal offence;
v. access to justice and the different procedures should be more flexible: hearings preferably held in private, reduced burden of proof, etc;
vi. the police and law enforcement agencies should be granted authority to carry out investigations and obtain evidence, and to lodge complaints on behalf of victims of domestic violence;
vii. immigrants who are perpetrators of domestic violence should be deprived of their residence status and be expelled from the host country.
8. The Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to launch a European Year Against Domestic Violence, which would highlight this problem at European level and incite European governments to undertake concrete action to combat domestic violence.
II. Explanatory memorandum by Mrs Keltosova
1. Violence is a general violation of the fundamental rights of all human beings: the right to life, to security, to dignity and to protection from physical and mental harm. It occurs in the family circle (domestic violence, sexual mutilation) and in society at large (rape, attack, sexual harassment, domestic slavery, trafficking in women and forced prostitution).
2. Violence against women is a question of power, of the need to dominate and control. This in turn is rooted in the organisation of society, itself based on inequality between the sexes. The meaning of this violence is clear: it is an attempt to maintain the unequal relationship between men and women and to perpetuate the subordination of women.
3. Violence against women is endemic, in the industrialised countries and the developing countries alike. Victims and perpetrators are found in all social classes.
4. International approaches to violence against women and domestic violence, in particular, deal only with male violence. But one should not ignore the existence of violence perpetrated by women against other members of household including against men.
5. Domestic violence is a universal problem and one of the most pervasive human rights abuse in the world. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It is a first international human rights instrument that exclusively addresses the issue of violence against women. It outlines that violence against women constitutes a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women and sets forth the responsibilities of individual governments to ensure that the protection of women’s rights and freedoms is enforced.
6. In the Beijing Platform of Action adopted at the Fourth UN World Conference on Women in 1995 violence against women was identified as one of the twelve critical areas of concern which constitutes main obstacles to the advancement of women. Governments agreed to adopt and implement national legislation aimed at providing women with adequate legal and institutional measures, protecting them against all forms of gender-based violence.
7. Domestic violence is a range of abusive behaviours (physical, sexual or emotional abuse) perpetrated by one partner upon the other to gain and maintain control. It happens in the family home and sometimes the children and other members of the family are involved too.
8. In this context “family” should be considered in its various forms including unmarried cohabiting couples and homosexual partners. The 1993 Home Affairs Select Committee Report on Domestic Violence used following definition of domestic violence, which gives a broader interpretation to the notion of family: “ Any form of physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse which take place within the context of a close relationship. In most cases the relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, or otherwise) or ex-partners.”
9. Conjugal violence is when one partner in a couple (whether married or just living together) behaves aggressively, violently or destructively towards the other. In the vast majority of cases the violence is perpetrated by the man.
10. Domestic violence affects the victims’ lives in a number of fields: housing, health, education and their freedom to live as they wish without fear. It is a very widespread phenomenon, found in all the countries of Europe.
11. Domestic violence is a phenomenon perpetuated by existing societal conditions and social relations which reflect gender inequality and promote male power. The concept of a gender based power imbalance is very important for the understanding of domestic violence because men have traditionally been more powerful in the society.
12. It has been demonstrated that violence in the home is like a form of torture. The victims are injured physically and psychologically and humiliated in body and soul. Like torture, conjugal violence is something that goes on and on.
13. Statistics show that it is more likely that a woman will be beaten, raped and even killed by her partner or former partner than by any other person. In Europe from 20 to over 50% of women are victims of conjugal violence. Violent partners correspond to no particular profile. They are found in every social category and every age group.
14. For women between 15 and 44 years of age, domestic violence is thought to be the major cause of death and invalidity, ahead of cancer, road accidents and even war. The social cost is felt in numerous sectors, including medical services and health, employment, justice and the police.
15. Domestic violence should therefore not be considered solely as a family matter. It is a political and public problem that concerns human rights violations, and therefore one the authorities should take very seriously by protecting the victims and taking steps to prevent domestic violence.
II. The different forms of domestic violence
16. Conjugal violence comes in various guises. The following categories are generally distinguished: physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, structural violence and economic violence.
1. Physical violence
17. Physical violence is the most visible kind, as it often leaves marks. The aggressor punches, slaps, strangles and beats his partner to vent his rage, sometimes using objects as weapons such as knives, firearms and axes. Physical violence can result in murder and often leads to serious physical injury.
18. Physical violence may also be directed against the couple’s children, the violent partner subjecting the children to all sorts of abuse.
2. Sexual violence
19. Physical violence perpetrated by a partner includes sexual violence.
20. Any sexual act endured under duress is an act of violence. Fondling or otherwise interfering with someone against their will should be a punishable offence.
21. Women may be forced to have sex against their will, be handled roughly during sex or raped by their partner. In many countries, unfortunately, violence in sexual relations within the couple is not considered as rape in the criminal sense of the term. A few countries are beginning to accept that rape within the couple is a crime, while others consider that husbands have the right to unlimited sexual access to their wives.
22. The husband or any other member of the family may force sexual relations on the children of the family.
3. Psychological violence
23. Psychological violence within the couple is equally unbearable for the women exposed to it. Unfortunately this is the least visible kind of violence and therefore the hardest to detect. Verbal abuse, humiliations, threats, harassment and confinement can be more harmful than physical attacks insofar as they seriously undermine the victim’s mental health. The victim loses all self-confidence and subsequently finds it difficult to take care of her.
4. Structural violence
24. Structural violence is often underestimated as it is less obvious and less direct than physical violence. It includes any situation where a woman is demeaned simply for being a woman, when she is deprived of her most fundamental rights, for example, such as the right to work, to have her own bank account, etc. Inequalities such as these simply encourage men to behave violently towards women.
5. Economic violence
25. Economic violence can also exist, when women are deprived of resources or essentials, despoiled or kept under strict control.
III. The extend of problem in Europe
26. Violence is estimated to affect one in five women across Europe, with the vast majority of incidents committed by a member of the family or a close acquaintance.
27. Despite the diversity of cultures and different economic and social situations in European countries, many common features confirmed the idea that violence forms a serious obstacle to equality.
28. It is difficult to know the true extent of domestic violence in different countries due to three factors: the hidden nature of the problem, under-reporting and the rare identification of domestic violence as a separate crime which, therefore, does not appear in statistical data.
29. The latest national survey in France has shown that in 2001 1,35 million women had been victims of domestic violence. For a half of them, it has been a first time that they had reviled the fact of violence. More higher social position they have, more difficult it is for women to denounce violence. The majority of women are from 20 to 34 years old.
30. In Norway with its population of 4 million people, each year 10 000 women seek medical treatment because of physical damage due to domestic violence.
31. In Russia 13 000 women are killed each year, mostly by husbands or boyfriends. As a comparison, 14000 Russians were killed during the war in Afghanistan, which lasted for 10 years.
32. The problem has gained a serious dimension in European countries which are going through the social-economic reconstruction of their societies. The destruction of social guarantee system in those countries without replacing them by other effective measures created the situation when people are facing absolute or relative poverty. Loss of jobs, part-time occupation and irregularity in payment of salaries resulted in the creation of a strongly hostile social climate. It led to the considerable increase of alcohol addiction, violence in different forms, depression, frustration.
33. Women generally do not speak publicly about domestic violence because of the many social taboos connected with the subject. Not enough complaints are made by assaulted women and ¾ of complaints in certain countries have been withdrawn after a certain time. The number of cases reported and registered falls significantly short of the reality.
34. Economic dependence and the fear of losing children are real factors in the denial of family violence, but they are not the main ones as economically independent women also suffer of conjugal violence.
35. Social workers who work directly with victims of domestic violence report that domestic violence impacts women at all levels of society. According to sociological research, domestic violence is a widespread phenomenon and happens both in families of aged people and young families.
36. Domestic violence is leaving a dangerous impact on teenagers and minors-actually future husbands and parents themselves. Seventy percent of all children’s traumas in Russia are caused in the family. Every year thousands minors and teenagers seek refuge in the street from cruelty in their families. Those children are involved in alcohol addictions, drugs, robbery and prostitution. Children who suffered from domestic violence in their families will always have an orientation towards violence as a means of conflict resolution in their future life. Anxiety, lack of self-confidence and suicidal tendencies are other consequences of an unhappy childhood spent in a violent family atmosphere.
37. For better understanding the situation of victims of domestic violence, one must take account of cultural differences and the influence of cultural traditions, for example the tension to which a migrant women can be subjected when confronted with two cultures whose views on the place of women and men in society and foundations of the family are contradictory.
38. Women who are victims of domestic violence or rape have very limited access to psychological counselling and legal assistance. There is a severely inadequate amount of shelters for abused women. Victims should wait from three to six month to get a place in the shelter.
IV. Causes and consequences of domestic violence
39. The reasons behind violence against women in the home are partly cultural and partly related to the traditional division of tasks between the sexes. Most men find it natural to take first place and do not want the status quo to change. Violent men think they have every right to dominate their wives, to make them do certain things and forbid others, to expect them to behave in a certain way.
40. Furthermore, men who resort to such means of imposing their power can usually feel quite safe, because more often than not the opinion prevails that domestic violence from men is a matter for the couple, a private issue which has nothing to do with the general public or the State, meaning the law enforcement agencies.
41. For far too long the idea has been instilled into people’s heads that the home, the family residence is a separate sovereign area in which no other authority can interfere, with some exceptions - after all, the privacy of the home is guaranteed by the Constitution. Many still see the family as a structure in which patriarchal models can be fully and unrestrictedly implemented, to the exclusion of any public supervision.
42. Society remains tolerant towards domestic violence, considering it acceptable in the light of traditional customs and continuing to lay the blame on the victims by suggesting that they would not have been assaulted if they had not acted in a certain way.
43. Conjugal violence was long considered as a private matter in which the public authorities and the justice system should not interfere. However, as conjugal violence causes physical and psychological harm to the women concerned, it is a direct breach of their human rights and, as such, punishable by law.
44. The consequences of domestic violence extend far beyond the conflict between partners. They affect the life of people at all levels: at family level, because other family members are often witnessed violent behaviour; at social level because it may lead to the social exclusion of the victim; at the economic level because enormous money should be mobilised by public funds for the rehabilitation of victims.
45. According to numerous reports of police and social workers a certain standard of domestic violence is tolerated in families with children. Women are avoiding to report the violent acts to the police because they do not want to separate family. Many studies demonstrate the contribution of domestic violence to homelessness, particularly among families with children.
46. It is not easy for victims of domestic violence to up and leave their partners or husbands, for several reasons. First of all, paradoxical as it may seem, they love their partners. It is the violence they do not like. They are also under a lot of pressure from their immediate environment: the partner or close relatives. Also, going away means leaving everything behind and starting a new life elsewhere. It necessitates financial resources and outside help and support. Psychological factors, such as fear and shame, also make running away difficult. Finally, why should the woman, who is the victim, leave her home when the husband is not called to account for his violence or brought before the courts in most countries?
47. It should be stressed, that poverty and a lack of education are not significant factors. It is even proved that the incidence of domestic violence seems to increase with income and the level of education. A Dutch study has shown that almost half of all those who commit violence against women, are holders of a university degree.
48. Even though the consumption of alcohol or drug is a factor that can have an influence on the violent behaviour of men, it can’t be considered as a major cause of domestic violence. Drunkenness is never an excuse for violence and many men who drink are not violent to their partners.
V. Legislation and problems of its implementation
49. Acts of domestic violence in all its forms should be treated by the State as criminal acts and not as “private matters”.
50. In fact, cases of domestic violence are rarely treated seriously either by law enforcement or prosecutors. In common practice, these cases are prosecuted only at the request of the victim. Police and prosecutors require well- documented complaints by the victim, and refuse to proceed otherwise. Often investigations of cases reported by women are not initiated because the evidence is not considered “credible” by police or prosecution standards. The police require numerous medical certificates, which women have to get themselves and have to pay for, and numerous visits to police station.
51. Violence only occurs in relationships which permit it or even take it for granted. Violent acts are therefore mere symptoms of a relationship based on violence. The only way to provide the victims with the State assistance to which they are entitled is to implement preventive security measures. However, such measures cannot be applied until the relationship of violence is dissolved. Although the priority is to eliminate the violence, this cannot be done without removing the relationship producing the violence. So the police must stand by the victim, remove her from the imminent danger and ensure that she receives ongoing support from the relevant support services.
52. Moreover, such police action on behalf of victims also has great symbolic value. The police intervention symbolises the gravity of the act of violence and highlights the culprit’s responsibility. It is very important in securing a change of attitude and behaviour in the dangerous partner, helping the injured party to get over the trauma of the violence and ensuring that the whole of society rejects violence.
53. The other problem victims of violence experience is a lack of witnesses. Neighbours are often unwilling to get involved, and do not want to be witnesses because they feel domestic abuse crimes are a private matter to be settled within the family. As a result they refuse to testify and police who are unwilling to develop a case usually base their decision on the lack of evidence.
54. The under enforcement of the existing legislation against domestic violence is explained by the absence of public recognition of the grave consequences for women who are victims of violence and children who are witnesses of violence.
55. The Austrian “Federal Act on Protection against Violence in the Family,” which came into force in May 1997 represents a fundamental change of philosophy with regard to the relationship between violent offenders and their victims. The implementation of this law proves that it stimulates a far-reaching process of rethinking among officials, especially law enforcement personnel, and the public.
56. Law enforcement officers are authorised to expel the author of violent attacks or threats of violence from the home and the immediate surroundings in which the individual exposed to such acts, lives and to prohibit the expelled person from returning to the premises. The law on the protection against violence offers victims of violence better protection particularly by the fact that it is the offender who has to leave the home, and not the victim.
57. Under the law enforcement regulations it is further possible to obtain an interim injunction. For the first time, precautions have been taken to ensure effective co-operation between the police and civil courts as well as intensive co-operation with victim protection organisations.
58. The Act makes it clear that it is always the person resorting to violence who is answerable for it.
59. As the police are unable to cope with the problem of violence in the family alone but can only do so in co-operation with other authorities and victim protection organisations, so-called Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence were set up as a secondary measure and to ensure the efficient implementation of the Austrian law on protection against violence. These agencies actively offer their help and support to women who are victims and perform a networking function between all parties involved in any specific case of violence (police and judicial authorities, youth welfare authorities, homes for battered women, etc.).
60. An Advisory Committee on Prevention was set up as a kind of “guarantor of co-operation and driving-force for continued reform”, ensuring effective co-operation at all levels, and also securing support measures, exchange of experience and the development of relevant new additional measures. This body is responsible for networking all institutions working in the violence prevention field.
61. The Advisory Committee has so far concentrated on preventing domestic violence, but it is also heavily involved in the public relations field and encourages such support measures as training for specialised personnel. It is responsible for supervision and ongoing evaluation of the reform project, provides useful inputs for moving the reform forward and thus rounds off the integral State approach to solving the problem of relationships based on violence. This integral approach is also making a major contribution to preventing secondary traumatisation in women and children who have suffered violence.
62. A special attention should be given to the protection of wives of foreign nationals, victims of domestic violence. In this context, German and Austrian legislative measures can serve as examples of improving the opportunities for female migrants to make a living in foreign countries. In 1997, the regulations concerning an independent right of residence for foreign spouses was amended in the Alien’s Act. In cases of domestic violence , the wife can obtain an independent right of residence without having to comply with a time limit.
63. Since the beginning of 1998 work permits can be granted under certain circumstances to foreigners with residence in Austria if they can no longer be expected to live together with their spouse owing to violence that has been threatened or committed by the same. Those women should also have a right to work and to professional trainings.
64. The aforementioned integral (holistic) approach to the phenomenon of relationship violence thus ranges from the principle that the State condemns and prosecutes violence committed in the home on the same basis as violence occurring in public, to the provision of practical support for the women in escaping this violent relationship with the help of specialised State-subsidised services.
65. After the first emergency measures, including the violent man’s exclusion, the next task is to put an end to the violent relationship. This is obviously only possible with the woman’s consent, and does not necessarily mean ending the couple’s relationship completely. It is possible to secure a new type of relationship after a sustained effort, but in all cases the two partners must be provisionally spatially separated.
66. The fact is that the bonds forged by such violent relationships are hard to break. The process is often fraught with setbacks. The women in question are often paralysed by fear of their violent partners, many of them delude themselves that they are still in love, sustained by a carrot-and-stick approach, and some even feel pity for their partners. The fear of losing their children is also a factor, as is the shame of having “failed” as a wife and mother. Economic, legal and social factors are often decisive elements in the woman’s inability to shake off the violent relationship on her own. A further component is the mode of female socialisation, with its inclination to self-sacrifice (which I see as a hangover from the days when traditional roles demanded such selfless devotion from the wife).
67. However, it was not until the various types of assistance available were networked and exchanges of experience organised among the various bodies involved that we were able to ascertain all this information about possible responses and specific and effective modes of action. The Austrian model has produced results, and experiences have been generally positive. Even the concerns that men excluded from the home might try to flout injunctions and approach their wives or partners have proved unnecessary, although there are of course isolated cases of breach of injunction. However, broadly speaking the injunction system and the other components of the Law on Protection against violence have been successful.
68. Legislative mechanism to counteract the problem of domestic violence should go together with effective preventive measures and national strategies to promote equality between women and men.
VI. Ways of combating domestic violence
69. The first step towards combating domestic violence consists in making it visible and to help the victims of violence to liberate themselves from the violent men’s control and provide women with all necessary support including refuge.
70. Each government should obtain an objective information on the stay of the problem in society in order to work out national strategies to combat domestic violence. Therefore, research, enquires and statistics constitute the primer stage in ascertaining the extend of the phenomenon.
71. In order to help and protect the victims of violence a wide net of crisis centres for abused women should be created in every European country. Women should have economical and social possibilities for independence.
72. Special attention must be paid to raise women’s awareness of their legal rights in order to provide them with the means to stop violence at an early stage.
73. Children should be identified as victims of domestic violence, and their right to safe life should be ensured. Women should have a right to keep children and to be separated from violent partner. Childcare facilities should be available to women in shelters.
74. In designing new laws to address the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence, policymakers should assess the potential negative consequences of these laws and weight them against the benefits. Appropriate rehabilitation programmes should be developed by the community and the state to assist children to recover from the violence and abuse they have suffered or witnessed.
75. A very progressive approach to the fight against domestic violence has been developed in Germany. It is based on the developing community intervention strategies through inter-agency co-operation on a local level. Community intervention projects aim to co-ordinate short-term police response, women’s advocacy counselling, and long-term civil protection orders, and to link active criminal prosecution with court-mandated men’s programmes. These projects try to design the proposed measures so that different institutions will complement and not controvert each other, and to ensure that women’s safety and self-determination remain a top priority. The community approach mobilises resources on the local level and calls on people to take responsibility for change where they live and work.
76. The role of the media should not be neglected, as it may draw attention to this dangerous phenomenon and inform victims of the various forms of assistance and remedies available to them. The media can raise public awareness of this problem and should promote respectful attitude to women in the society. It can play an important part in influencing the changing of attitudes.
77. Men must take responsibility for their violent behaviour. It is necessary to establish treatment centres for violent men based on self-referrals in order to specifically reach the great amount of violence which never comes in contact with legal system. These centres can accord individual treatment for men, conduct psychological or sociological researches and provide educational trainings for professionals and public in general. Since 1987 such centres have been successfully operating in Norway and can serve as models for other countries.
78. The treatment of violent men not only has a preventive effect, but also encourage women to denounce violent acts because they know that the perpetrators will not only be sanctioned but also will be treated.
VII. The Council of Europe activity in combating domestic violence
79. The international community – especially international organisations such as the Council of Europe – have a major ethical role to play in promoting zero tolerance towards violence against women.
80. The Council of Europe first adopted a Recommendation on violence in the family in 1985. This included recommendations for action by member States to further prevention, official reporting, and state intervention in cases of violence. Further action was taken in 1990 when a Recommendation on social measures concerning violence within the family had been adopted. In 1993, the Third European Ministerial Conference on Equality between Women and Men adopted a Declaration on policies for combating violence against women in a democratic Europe.
81. The continuous work achieved by the Council of Europe, and in particular by its Steering Committee on Equality between women and men (CDEG), to combat violence against women have substantially assisted in increasing the visibility of the problem. The Action Plan published in 1997 was considered as an effective platform on which to formulate national measures.
82. A Group of Specialists was created in 1998 in order to prepare a legal instrument: a recommendation to member States for the protection of women and young girls against violence. The Council of Europe Seminar on “Promoting equality: a common issue for men and women” (Strasbourg, 17-18 June 1997) also provided a useful contribution to the work on violence against women, in particular regarding its prevention.
83. The CDEG conducted several important activities tackling different aspects of the problem of violence against women. Among them, the information forum “Ending domestic violence: action and measures” which was held in Bucharest in November 1998.
84. The CDEG organised an international Forum in Bratislava in October 2000 on the theme of “Human rights of girls and young women in Europe: questions and challenges for the 21st century”. This Forum produced a series of recommendations for stepping up efforts to combat violence against women.
85. A comparative study on the state of legislation concerning violence against women in the Council of Europe member states was prepared by the Group of Specialists on combating violence against women, working under the auspices of the CDEG. This study covers also the problem of domestic violence.
86. The Council of Europe should continue to play a key role in the combat against violence. The need for transnational actions to be undertaken at legislative, policy and research level to enhance international co-operation can be the basis for the future action of the Council of Europe.
87. The measures to prevent domestic violence should tackle the root cause of the problem. Therefore, it is necessary that all governments do everything possible to combat discrimination against women and to guarantee them the same opportunities and choices that men have, that will make women less vulnerable.
88. Strategic planning in the area of domestic violence should establish a framework for legislation procedures and services in order to:
- ensure immediate safety to women who are, or are at risk of becoming, victims of domestic violence;
- ensure long-term positive outcomes for women who are, or at risk of becoming, victims of violence;
- prevent the occurrence of domestic violence.
89. The following measures should be considered by member States of the Council of Europe in order to combat domestic violence against women:
1. Legal measures
- National legislation should prohibit all forms of domestic violence and introduce effective legal provisions, including the immediate removal of the violent partner from the common household and environment of the woman and her children without proof and on the first complain without waiting for the court order;
- the concept of domestic violence should be defined in national legislations in such a way that it is treated as a serious criminal offence whatever its forms;
- in view of the legal and institutional reform aimed at establishing more effective systems protecting women against domestic violence, the review of the existing national laws and comprehensive research are necessary ;
- conjugal rape should be made a criminal offence;
- access to justice and the different procedures should be more flexible: hearings preferably held in private, reduced burden of proof, etc;
- the police and law enforcement agencies should be granted authority to carry out investigations and obtain evidence, and to lodge complaints on behalf of victims of domestic violence;
- migrant women, the victims of domestic violence should be granted an individual legal status in the country of residence (right to stay, to work, etc.);
2. Preventive measures
- It is very important to improve statistics on domestic violence, to give a clear picture of its nature and prevalence, to enable identification of resources addressing it, and to enable evaluation of initiatives to tackle it;
- a partnership between authorities responsible for the protection of women rights and regional and local authorities should be developed in order to increase the number of the rehabilitation centres and shelters for women-victims of domestic violence;
- continuing cooperation and understanding should be promoted between the police, government departments, non-governmental organisations on the problems and dangers associated with domestic violence;
- an action plan should be developed by all European governments in the co-operation with women’s NGOs to create a general climate where domestic violence is rejected;
- preventive action should be taken against domestic violence through national awareness campaigns through the media;
- proper training should be given to people who deal with victims of domestic violence: health care staff, police and social workers;
- gender equality education and education on non-violent behaviour should be started at a very early stage and an adequate training for teachers on the issue of domestic violence and gender equality should be ensured;
- through educational programmes the citizens should be encouraged to accept their responsibility for, and take positive steps to deduce and prevent domestic violence incidents in the society;
- the State funding should be increased to support social services dealing with this problem of domestic violence;
- the media should cover in a regular, objective and non-biased manner the problem of domestic violence and should also try to educate the public about the causes and consequences of domestic violence;
- women should be encouraged encourage to learn self-defence techniques;
- proper training programmes should be elaborated for the perpetrators of violence against women.
3. Support to the victims of domestic violence
- victims of domestic violence should be provided with free legal advice and assistance before taking legal action;
- victims of domestic violence should be helped, by opening residential centres where women can receive psychological support and giving financial support to welfare associations and emergency services;
- effective measures should be introduced for providing protection for victims of violence after the incident and during the whole legal procedure;
- a special financial support should be given to NGO’s as well as women’s associations working with victims of domestic violence;
- social protection measures should be adopted or reinforced so that injuries caused to women and children by violent acts are provided for under social protection schemes;
- training of professionals working with young people, as well as health personnel should be promoted to identify children and adolescents growing up in violent homes and to take the necessary measures to help and assist them;
- training of medical personnel should be ensured to enable them to identify victims of violence.
90. A co-operation should be developed between the Council of Europe and non-governmental organisations in order to establish databases of organisations and institutions dealing with domestic violence, legislation and statistics on this issue across Europe. This information should be accessible at the Internet.
91. The Council of Europe should work out a series of action responding to the need of harmonisation of European national legislation to combat domestic violence and to enhance international co-operation in this field.
92. Guidelines for action programmes aimed at violent men could be prepared by a special working group of the Council of Europe.
93. The Council of Europe should elaborate an outline, adaptable to each country, for training and information handbooks directed at judges, court officers, members of the police force and medical practitioners.
94. The question of equality between women and men should be among the issues covered by monitoring of compliance with the obligations of Council of Europe member States.
95. Ending domestic violence in all its forms is a vital task for all European countries striving to live in the society based on the respect of human rights and dignity.
Domestic violence. Good practices of the Council of Europe member States.
The “Federal Act on Protection against Violence in the Family” came into force in May 1997. Law enforcement officers are authorised to expel the author of violent attacks or threats of violence from the home and the immediate surroundings in which the individual exposed to such acts lives and to prohibit the expelled person from returning to the premises. The law on protection against violence offers victims of violence better protection by virtue of the fact that it is the offender who has to leave the home, not the victim.
As the police are unable to cope with the problem of violence in the family alone but can only do so in co-operation with other authorities and victim protection organisations, so-called Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence were set up as a secondary measure and to ensure the efficient implementation of the law on protection against violence. These agencies actively offer their help and support to women who are victims and perform a networking function between all parties involved in any specific case of violence (police and judicial authorities, youth welfare authorities, homes for battered women, etc.).
On the initiative of the Federal Minister for Women Affairs the first “Intervention Agency against Violence in the Family” was set up in Graz in 1996. Currently there are Intervention Agencies, which are co-funded by the Federal Minister for Women’s Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, in five provincial capitals in Austria.
Combating domestic violence is a national priority in Belgium. An action plan adopted on 11 May 2001 includes a number of different measures relating to prevention, punishment, victim support, and the treatment reserved for offenders.
The following decisions have been taken at federal level:
- launch in September 2001 of a campaign on the theme of “Marital violence is a crime”, which targets the general public and takes the form of information packs distributed by the various parties behind the campaign (police, national legal service, prosecutors, legal advice centres (maisons de justice), hospitals and doctors, NGOs, etc). The campaign’s main message is that victims of marital violence should not be blamed or regarded with contempt and that the people guilty of such violent behaviour can be helped.
• Measures to be carried out in conjunction with the Ministers for Equal Opportunities, Home Affairs and Justice
- establishment of a working group to compile criminal and judicial statistics that can be used to assess follow-up by the courts in cases involving domestic violence;
- follow-up to the pilot project carried out in the District of Antwerp with the financial support of the Ministry for Equal Opportunities and the Province of Antwerp, with a view to possibly extending the project.
• Measures taken by the Home Affairs Ministry
- Compilation of a list of the most significant practices in the field of prevention, and suggestions for intervention, awareness-raising and training modules (prevention policy permanent secretariat);
- Establishment within the federal police force of an Equality Unit responsible, inter alia, for proposing ways of furthering equal opportunities for women and men in the areas of recruitment, selection and promotion;
- Continuation of initial and further violence management training for serving and future police officers;
- Establishment of one victim support centre per zone (ie 196).
• Measures taken by the Justice Ministry
- Assessment of the phenomenon of sexual aggression;
- Inclusion in the agenda of the Board of Principal Crown Prosecutors (Collège des procureurs généraux) of the question of judicial policy in relation to offences in breach of the Act of 24 November 1997 and novel experiments in follow-up by the courts in cases of domestic violence;
- Inclusion in the agenda of the judicial service commission (Conseil Supérieur de la Justice) of the question of special training for members of the national legal service;
- The Justice Minister and Equality Opportunities Minister will make a proposal to the federal entities in favour of the joint compilation of a directory of help services for violent offenders that could be of benefit in the case of marital violence.
• In cooperation with the Equal Opportunities Minister
A special training course for court assistants, with the backing of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Equal Opportunities (measure aimed at qualified staff). One of the aims is to introduce gender mainstreaming in legal advice centres;
- Participation of the Equal Opportunities Ministry in the following projects set up under the federal safety plan: project 1 (scientific research), project 7 (victim support), project 19 (prevention of family violence), project 70 (legal advice centres);
- The Justice Minister and the Equal Opportunities Minister will submit draft statutes for the national forum for a victim support policy to the Council of Ministers. The draft will be drawn up in consultation with the federal entities.
• Measures taken by the Public Health Minister:
- Awareness-raising in medical circles, and principally among family doctors and doctors/nurses working in casualty departments, on the subject of violence within the family;
- Dissemination of the “violence medical file” and “sexual violence medical file” in which family doctors can note down any relevant information about victims/their patients;
- Study on an instrument enabling doctors to check for signs of violence;
- Confidentiality rule versus duty to report. Under Article 20 of the Royal Decree of 31.5.1985, doctors have a duty to report any cases where one of their patients has been a victim of crime. Their duty to report is an exception to the confidentiality rule. This sensitive issue would benefit from a broad public debate.
The Act on Restraining Orders came into force on 1 January 1999 (issued on 4.12.1998/898). A restraining order means that in order to protect the life, health, freedom or peace of a person, another person, for instance the former spouse or an adult child extorting money from his/her elderly parent, can be ordered not to contact the protected person. A basic restraining order means that the person on whom it has been imposed may not meet the protected person or try to contact that person. An extended restraining order signifies that the person is also forbidden to be in a certain area, such as in the vicinity of the home or workplace of the person being protected. The application for a restraining order is submitted to the police or the district court; the order is imposed for a maximum of one year at a time. The punishment for a breach of the restraining order is a fine or imprisonment not exceeding one year. In 1999, over 1000 restraining orders were imposed.
As an awareness-raising and prevention strategy, a photographic report on domestic violence was prepared, for the first time in France, in 1997. This document, which took two years to complete, is used to support the awareness-raising campaigns of regional delegates and the special advisers on Women’s Rights within the départements.
An inter-departmental government circular on the fight against domestic violence to women was issued on 8 March 1999. In part one it reviews the legislation on physical and sexual domestic violence against women; in part two it describes the inter-agency partnership necessary to deal with this violent phenomenon; while in part three it details the responses offered to victims in terms of refuge and treatment by the police force, the Gendarmerie units and the justice services. The final part summarises the measures for assuming responsibility for victims of violence and securing compensation for them in private.
A government working party under the Ministry of Justice was set up in 1999 to deal with violence against women. Its tasks were to evaluate the legislation in force, to carry out a comparative analysis with that of European countries, to appraise current legal practice, to identify innovative actions adopted by some courts in order to make these more widespread and to improve co-ordination between the various civil and criminal procedures. This partnership, which has been strengthened over the past year, should make further progress following the decisions made on 8 March 2000 by the interdepartmental committee for women’s rights and equality.
In 1995, the “Berlin Intervention Project Against Domestic Violence” was initiated. It is intended to improve the protection of women subjected to domestic violence during the police and court proceeding of the offender. This project is modelled on the Duluth, Minnesota, “Domestic Violence Intervention Project” and is aimed to coordinate measures by all institutions and projects to facilitate better protection for maltreated women and prosecution of perpetrators.
The women’s shelter in Reykjavik, serving the whole country, was established in 1982. The shelter is an emergency shelter for women suffering from domestic violence. The shelter is based on a feminist ideology that violence against women, domestic and other sorts of violence, is a social problem not a private one. The shelter is run by the NGO Women’s Shelter Alliance, and financially supported by the government, various municipal authorities and private donors. The spokeswomen of the Alliance have criticised the justice system for not being effective enough and pointed out that victims do not obtain redress in the existing system.
Men’s Programmes – Prevention
MOVE, initiated in 1989, has developed programmes in Dublin, Cork and other parts of Ireland. Its primary concern is the safety of women and children, which it ensures by placing the responsibility for finding solutions to violence on the men. It operates a 13-week rolling programme throughout the year. Men are referred to the programme by doctors, solicitors, psychiatrists, marriage counsellors and social workers, and a small number are referred by the courts. The programme is based on weekly group sessions facilitated by professionals. Men are challenged to confront and explore their violent behaviour, attitudes and beliefs and are challenged to take full responsibility for their violence. MOVE defines success as men stopping being physically violent and ceasing to exert control in the many other ways that batterers do e.g. psychological abuse. MOVE is a voluntary organisation with no secure state funding. It also engages in out-reach work to educate and inform professionals and public opinion about violent men and their responsibility for violence.
The NGO crisis centre “Skalbes” has been conducting several multidisciplinary seminars regarding domestic violence for district attorneys, judges, police officers, medical doctors, psychologists and social workers. The outcome of these seminars is a specific working group that meets twice a month to work on the various legislative issues concerning domestic violence. The aim of these activities is to develop specific legislation regarding domestic violence.
The Social Welfare Development Programme, set up by the Ministry for Social Development, provides a catalogue of services:
The Domestic Violence Unit is made up of specialised social workers who support and empower victims of domestic violence. Social workers within the Domestic Violence Unit assist clients in finding shelter when it is requested and link them to other necessary services. The Unit is also committed to the prevention of violence through education and media and participates actively in lobbying for changes in legislation.
Support line 179 is a free phone help line run by trained volunteers with the aim of providing accessible and confidential support and information, and to provide help in accessing emergency services for people who have experienced, or are concerned about, domestic violence or child abuse.
The Child Protection Services Unit and the Children’s Support Group Service, as well as Support to Interagency Fostering Team and the Supervised Access Visits Service aim to provide effective Support to children facing violence and sexual abuse. The Service of Family Therapy focuses on the family as a whole system.
There are three shelters for women victims of domestic violence and their children, run by NGOs and subsidised by the State.
National plan of action
In 1991, an Action Committee was set up with the aim of developing an action plan to deal with domestic violence. A report was issued in January 1992. A Victim Support Unit of the Malta Police Force was set up. This unit gives police services of protection and prosecution in Court.
The Domestic Violence Unit of the Social Welfare Development Programme and the Malta Police Force organised training programs for the police.
Programme of Action Against Domestic Violence
In 2000, the government launched a programme of action against domestic violence. An interdepartmental group with representation from the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs chaired by the Ministry of Justice and Police has been established. The group is responsible both for co-ordinating action on domestic violence and violence against women in general and for implementing the activities from the programme of action. The programme consists of a wide range of activities to reduce domestic violence and to improve services to victims:
- Provide financial support to local projects based on a multi-agency approach, involving all key agencies to promote co-operation in order to provide assistance to women who experience domestic violence.
- Improve the expertise and competence of personnel and occupational groups who are likely to be approached by woman experiencing domestic violence including police, doctors, nurses, midwives, staff from the shelters for women, etc.
- Increased attention is to be given to men who commit acts of violence against women. In order to ascertain which methods are suitable and effective, treatment methods for men are to be surveyed. The results of the survey should be reported at latest by June 2002.
- A working group has been set up to propose a change in legislation to make it possible for women who experience severe threats to get a new identity/identification number.
Alarms are supplied to women who have been violently treated or threatened by their ex-husbands or ex-common law husbands. The alarms give immediate access to the police in an emergency. Efforts will be undertaken to develop mobile alarms.
The national agency with responsibility for alcohol-related problems (Ministry of Health and Social Welfare) has linked with the Psychology Institute for Health and Alcoholism-related Problems (a non-governmental organisation) to set up a programme to tackle violence in the family. There is a twofold purpose: to lay the foundations for a coherent system of support for victims of domestic violence, especially in its most serious manifestations (families confronted with the spectre of alcoholism), and to bring about changes in people’s attitude towards such acts.
The National Centre for Emergency Relief for Victims of Family Violence is responsible for:
- gathering relevant information;
- maintaining a register of institutes, organisations and individuals offering their support for victims of domestic violence;
- informing those in need of support what options are available to them a free phone number and qualified staff manning a round-the-clock telephone help-line;
- determining means of response - modern methods have been developed in co-operation with the Warsaw police to respond to incidents connected with acts of domestic violence requiring police intervention;
- providing moral and practical support for NGOs assisting victims and working with perpetrators of acts of domestic violence;
- designing teaching materials and handbooks for victims and those helping them;
- raising public awareness of the problem of domestic violence and ways of containing it.
The Portuguese Victim Support Association – APAV, which is based in Lisbon and has branches in other Portuguese towns, provides psychological assistance, counselling, financial assistance and information for victims. Its main priority is to provide shelters for battered women, but it has insufficient resources. Victims can also seek help from a private self-help organisation for women. In 1976 the Commission for the Equality and Rights of Women opened a legal aid department for women. Some 25% of the cases dealt with by this department concern ill-treatment by spouses. Since 1997 the Commission has been storing information concerning its consultations in a computerised database.
“The Women’s Association against Violence”, a women’s NGO, also has a welfare and legal support service for women who have been victims of violence. It already runs a shelter in the Lisbon area, set up with the help of a private company and the Commission for the Equality and Rights of Women. Law No. 107/99 of 3 August 1999, on the setting up of a public network of shelters for women victims of violence, establishes the general framework for the setting up of such shelters.
In 1998 the Commission for the Equality and Rights of Women set up a national emergency hotline for the victims of domestic violence, which provides legal information on this subject. This hotline has been in operation 24 hours a day since May 2000 with the help of the APAV. In addition to the hotline, the APAV and the CIDM have an office to which women who are victims of violence can appeal directly for help.
Act on Social Assistance
The new Act on Social Assistance contains preventive measures against domestic violence. Social prevention and solving material or social hardships are part of social assistance. Counselling, legal protection and social services address material and social hardship.
Social prevention: Education programmes aiming to change violent behaviour are important within the framework of social prevention.
Counselling: The scope, the nature and the reason for an individual’s negative behaviour are first identified. Potential solutions or further counselling provided by specialised institutions are than recommended.
Legal protection: Educational programmes aiming to improve family relations are an important way to protect the individual’s legal rights.
Social services: At present, there are 23 shelters with 247 places that can provide housing to women and their children depending on their needs, but the shelters may also assist women subjected to domestic violence.
The following measures have been undertaken in order to simplify and improve legal procedures:
- To develop continuous training programmes concerning domestic violence for public prosecutors;
- to request the Attorney General’s Office for a more decisive position in the search for proof and the follow-up of the execution of sentences;
- the establishment of a database so that information about previous complaints may be obtained by courts and tribunals;
- to establish a protocol of collaboration between the different groups involved;
- to request the General State Prosecutor to include in his annual report a specific section on violence against women;
- to increase the number of doctors and experts in forensic medicine;
- to improve the legal aid for the victims of ill-treatment.
A new offence, gross violation of a woman’s integrity, has been introduced into the Penal Code. It deals with repeated punishable acts directed by men against women who have or have had a close relationship with the perpetrator. “Gross violation of a woman’s integrity” means that if a man commits certain criminal acts (assault, unlawful threat or coercion, sexual or other molestation, sexual exploitation, et cetera) against a woman to whom he is or has been married or with whom he is or has been cohabiting, he shall be sentenced for gross violation of the woman's integrity, instead of for each single offence he has committed. A necessary condition for sentencing for the new offence is that the acts were part of a repeated violation of the woman's integrity and were intended to damage seriously her self-confidence. The new crime makes it possible for the courts to increase the penal value of these offences in situations where they are part of a process that constitutes a violation of integrity, which is often the case in domestic violence. It will thus also be possible to take the entire situation of the abused woman into account. The penalty is imprisonment for a minimum of six months and a maximum of six years. The new crime does not exclude the possibility of the perpetrator simultaneously being indicted for, for instance, aggravated assault or rape. Since the entry into force of the new provision, a number of judgments have been pronounced on the basis of the provision.
The National Council for Crime Prevention was asked to make a study of the practical and technical conditions necessary for electronic monitoring of men who breach a restraining order. The Council submitted its report to the Government in March 1999. The increased risk of detection which such a form of monitoring implies can have a deterrent effect as well as providing greater security for the woman concerned. Electronic monitoring would also mean a limitation of the freedom of movement of the perpetrator instead of, as is often the case today, the woman bearing the responsibility for reporting the breach to the police. However, the initiation of such a project is contingent on access to reliable technology and the possibility of carrying out the surveillance in a practical way.
In 1997 the Swiss Conference of Gender Equality Delegates launched a wide-ranging national information campaign to draw attention to the problem of violence in the home, entitled “Putting an end to violence against women in the home”. The focus of this campaign was on the very widespread violence perpetrated by men against women, in both married and unmarried couples. A large number of regional and local events took place during the campaign and a telephone hotline provided information and advice to the public, 7 days a week, in three languages.
Projects have been set up in several cantons to counter domestic violence, protect victims and bring their assailants to court. The project groups are generally made up of male and female representatives of the police, the courts, the social welfare authorities, migrants’ organisations, services providing advice and assistance to women and equality offices.
LAW NO. 4320 ON THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The law on the “Protection of the Family” introduced into Turkish legislation contains several articles enabling women who may be subject to violence to apply to the courts for a protection order. Measures foreseen include a separation order preventing the family member who uses violence from approaching the family home, obliging them to pay the living costs of other members of the family, preventing them from harassing family members via means of communication, and preventing them from damaging the belongings of family members. Such an order can be obtained from the judge of the [court of the justice of peace] upon an individual submission from women or children who are victims of domestic violence or on information supplied by the Prosecutor General. If a protection order is violated a jail sentence ranging from 3 to 6 months may be imposed. Law No. 4320 was adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 14 January 1998 and entered into force on 17 January 1998. Furthermore, this Law envisages the protection of the applicant until any divorce is finalised.
The State Ministry Responsible for Women and the Family has published and distributed 15 000 booklets to Mayor's offices, judges, prosecutors, bar associations, the Interior Ministry and NGOs in 80 provinces of Turkey.
A communication has been sent to Mayor's officies requesting statistics on the number of cases recorded by the police concerning women victims of honour crimes, women killing their husbands or committing suicide following many years of being subject to violence. After this information was evaluated, new studies [will be/were?] carried out in order to eliminate any defects in the law.
Within the framework of the National Program on Strengthening the Participation of Women in Development undertaken together with the UN Development Program under the co-ordination of Research and Implementation Centre for Women’s Problems at Ankara University, a program called “Our Friend in the Police Station” was implemented with a view to changing attitudes in police stations and among the police which might discourage victims from applying to security officials and with a view to training police officials.
As part of this programme 94 security officials working in police stations affiliated to the Ankara Directorate of Security were trained in 1996.
Social Gender Sensitivity Training was organised in 1998 for security officials and Police Academy students working in police stations affiliated to the Ankara Directorate of Security. The training included subjects such as women rights, concepts of equality, violence against women and domestic violence.
By the end of 2001 this Law was implemented in 7432 cases related to domestic violence.
“MOR ÇATI”, based in Istanbul, is an autonomous NGO that provides support to women experiencing domestic violence. Some women have been empowered to say "no" to violence. “MOR ÇATI” strengthens solidarity amongst women against domestic violence through the "say no" campaign that challenges the cultural acceptance of violence against women.Un
A Domestic Violence Regional Forum was established in September 1995. The Forum brings together the main statutory and voluntary interests, and provides the focal point for co-ordinating action to take forward the objectives set out in the policy framework. To date, the work of the Forum has included:
- Establishing local inter agency groups in each Health and Social Services Community Trust;
- Developing training and information programmes for professionals dealing with domestic violence;
- A pilot scheme for cautioning first time offenders;
- A treatment programme for perpetrators;
- A public awareness campaign, including television advertising;
- Action to improve the research and information base; and
- overseeing responses by the relevant agencies to the recommendations in a recent research report - "Taking Domestic Violence Seriously - Issues for the Civil and the Criminal Justice System" ( McWilliams and Spence 1996).
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) produced a publication called Stopping Crime Starts with You. This publication includes a section which provides useful and practical advice to women to help them protect themselves. The NIO have also produced a publication called Six Steps to Protect Your Home which includes practical advice on domestic security, and lists a number of help lines of organisations which can provide support. It was re-issued early in 1998.
In order to discover how the Scottish Office could best contribute to supporting victims, a study was commissioned to review the type of services available to abused women and their children. A report of this study was published in March 1998 under the title Service Provision to Women Experiencing Domestic Violence in Scotland. The report made 26 recommendations to the Scottish Office/Central Government and addressed a further 36 to service providers including local authority housing and social work departments, police forces, Health Boards, Scottish Women's Aid and the Benefits Agency.
The Scottish Office also published, in 1997, the result of a thematic inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary of the police response to domestic violence. Entitled Hitting Home the report indicates that repeat victimisation is high and that demand from victims for police services has increased in recent years. Nevertheless, there has been great improvement in liaison with local authority services and other agencies over the past 10 years and this report will help spread the existing good practice identified in a number of police forces.
A Scottish Partnership on Domestic Violence was set up in 1998. Its membership includes representative organisations who are actively involved in dealing with the various aspects of domestic violence. Its remit is to recommend:
- A strategy on domestic violence which takes into account the impact of domestic violence on children and young people; and the need for effective intervention strategies to prevent male violence against female partners and their children;
- Standards and levels of service for women experiencing domestic violence in order to encourage consistent service delivery throughout Scotland, having particular regard to the needs of women from rural areas, women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities and taking into account the impact on children and young people affected;
- A framework for monitoring progress in dealing with domestic violence and to –
- Cost all recommendations involving resources;
- Consider which recommendations should be given priority for action, taking into account of such factors as their impact, costs, the speed with which they can be implemented and local variations and needs and existing provision;
- Report to the Minister for Women’s Issues by March 1999 setting out a detailed work-plan and time-scale for discharging the remit in full.
Specialist Police Units
Following guidance issued to police forces in 1990 (England, Wales and Scotland) and 1991 (Northern Ireland), all UK police forces now have policy statements on domestic violence. As an operational matter, police organisational structures are the responsibility of local chief constables rather than central Government. However, long-standing guidance to the police emphasises the importance of dealing with domestic violence effectively; all police forces in the UK now have domestic violence policies; and most have specialist domestic violence officers, many of whom work in dedicated Domestic Violence Units.
January 1999 saw the publication of the Home Office-sponsored research study Policing Domestic Violence: effective organisational structures by Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson. Issues considered in this research included whether forces have specialist Domestic Violence Officers (DVOs) and/or Domestic Violence Units (DVUs), the scope of the role of DVOs and DVUs, the position of DVOs within the force, and how performance is monitored and information passed between front-line officers and DVOs.
The thematic report "Hitting Home" identified weaknesses in the police response to domestic violence in Scotland. Not all forces have designated domestic violence staff and the report recommended that forces without such staff should consider the need for them in the light of the report.
Reporting committee: Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Reference to committee: Doc 9081 and Reference No. 2608 of 22 May 2001
Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 27 June 2002.
Members of the committee: Mrs Err (Chairperson), Mrs Aguiar (1st Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Keltosova (2nd Vice-Chairperson), Mrs Mikutiene (3rd Vice-Chairperson), Ms Anastassova, Mr Bakulin, Mrs Biga-Friganovic, Mrs Castro (Mrs Lopez Gonzalez), Mrs Cryer (Mr Etherington), Mr Dalgaard, Ms Fogler, Mrs Freitag, Mrs Frimannsdóttir, Mr Gaburro, Ms Granlund, Ms Gülek, Ms Hadjiyeva, Mrs Hornikova, Mr Juri, Mrs Katseli, Mrs Kestelijn-Sierens, Mr Kiely, Ms Konglevoll (Ms Ringstad), Mrs Korhonen, Mrs Kosane-Kovacs, Mrs Kryemadhi, Mr Mahmood, Mr Olteanu, Mrs Paegle, Mrs Paoletti Tangheroni, Mrs Patarkalishvili, Ms Patereu, Ms Pericleous-Papadopoulos, Mr Pintat, Mr Popovski, Mr Pullicino Orlando, Mrs Roudy, Mrs Rupprecht, Mrs Wurm, Ms Yarygina (Mr Fedorov), Mrs Zaciragic, Mrs Zafferani, Mrs Zapfl-Helbling, Mrs Zwerver.
N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.
Secretaries of the committee: Mrs Nollinger, Ms Kostenko