Front page.

News | Wednesday, 20 January 2010 Issue. 147

Bookmark and Share

‘Explosion’ in domestic violence cases

Statistics recently released by the Justice and Home Affairs Ministry suggest an exponential increase in the number of domestic violence cases brought before the local law courts over the past six years - although this apparent increase may be attributable to new definitions of domestic violence ushered in by the relevant law passed in 2005.
The same statistics also show that the backlog of cases pending before the courts has been slashed from 55% in 2004, to less than 10% in 2008.
However, this success must be measured against an apparent ‘explosion’ in reported cases of domestic violence, which rose from 216 in 2004, to 1,399 in 2008.
Among the possible reasons is a widening of the definition of ‘domestic violence’, previously limited to instances of violence between married couples, to also include other members of the extended family, such as uncles, aunts, children and grandchildren.
Furthermore the word violence itself was also redefined to include a wide variety of activities, not all of which necessarily entail the use of physical force.
The Domestic Violence Act – enacted in May 2005 after a seven-year hiatus – defines domestic violence as “any act of violence, even if only verbal, perpetrated by a household member upon another household member.”
And while the concept of stalking was excluded from the law, harassment was for the first time recognised as a form of domestic violence.
Not all lawyers responded warmly to the new legal provisions. Leading family lawyer Dr Yana Micallef Stafrace said at the time that “the new law is not as far reaching as what was proposed in the White Paper presented in 1998.”
Micallef Stafrace also objected to the fact that the word “only,” used in the context of verbal violence, may diminish its gravity.
But apart from supplying legal definitions – however questionable – for a previously vague concept, the 2005 Act also introduced new punitive measures designed specifically for such crimes.
The concept of protection orders was inserted in the law, enabling the courts to issue restrictions and prohibitions on the accused. This includes the prohibition of access to the premises where the person specified in the order lives, works or frequents.


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download front page in pdf file format

Download the MaltaToday newspaper advertising rates in PDF format

European Elections special editions

01 June 2009
02 June 2009
03 June 2009
04 June 2009
08 June 2009

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email