A woman allegedly abused by her husband for 21 years has received a protective order against her husband, the first to be granted under the recently enacted Domestic Violence (DV) Law which provides protection for victims of domestic violence.
According to the police, the protective order – intended to protect the victim from further harm or harassment – was requested by the Ungoofaaru Police Station following a complaint filed by the victim at the station on April 30.
In a statement released on Thursday, the police said that the woman has been “a victim of domestic abuse for 21 years” and has faced various forms of abuse from her husband over the years.
“During the investigation police found that the woman definitely needs protection,” the statement read.
Police media official Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that the case is under further investigation and no arrests have been made yet.
Meanwhile, the woman remains protected from any further abuse under the protective order, he observed.
“A great help”
“The enactment of the Domestic Violence Act has certainly facilitated police investigations into domestic violence cases. But more importantly, it is a great help for victims of such crimes,” the Sub-Inspector added.
Should the police find reasonable evidence to believe a person is a victim of domestic abuse, the DV legislation stipulates the police can enter the place of crime without a court order and arrest perpetrators and even request for a protective order on behalf of the victim.
Furthermore, if requested, the courts can command the accused person to refrain from certain activities (a restraining order) in a domestic violence case and even issue a maintenance order to ensure a means of support or livelihood to the victim.
The court can grant a three-month provisional order without a trial, or the knowledge of the alleged perpetrator, while he or she is given the right to challenge the order during the trial to make the order permanent.
The Domestic Violence Act defines sexual, physical and emotional abuse of victims, economic and psychological abuse, intimidation, stalking and harassment, deliberate damage to property of the victims as offences while the perpetrators can be subjected to the punishments and court orders.
Violations of these orders are considered criminal offences and the perpetrator can face a maximum fine of Rf50, 000 (US$3242) and a maximum three years of imprisonment.
In addition, the legislation stipulates the formation of “Family Protection Authority”, mandated to conduct programs to support victims of domestic violence, setting out measures for taking all necessary steps to prevent domestic violenceincluding rehabilitating perpetrators of such crimes, arrange easy reporting mechanisms and facilitating the investigations.
A seven member board needs to be appointed to the FPA . The board will be appointed soon, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said after ratifying the legislation on April 23.
The passage to endorsement took over a year longer than anticipated, mostly due to the resistance from several MPs who had argued the bill was “un-Islamic” and criticised it for “unduly favouring women” while at the same time making life “extremely difficult” for men, who they said, were wronged by women.
Maldives has a high rate of gender-related violence, particularly affecting women and girls. A national survey on “Women’s Health and Life Experiences” conducted with the support of UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO showed that one in every three Maldivian women aged 15-49 reported experiencing some form of physical or sexual violence at least once during their lifetime.