Reports of domestic violence have increased dramatically in the first half of 2004, while a draft law on violence in the home that has been in the works for years is still being edited, local rights group Adhoc said Monday.
Between January and June, Adhoc received reports of 246 domestic violence cases. Many complaints, filed with local authorities prior to Adhoc’s involvement, had been ignored or otherwise unresolved, the organization reported.
Almost half of the attackers had consumed alcohol before the reported incidents. Of the 246 cases reported, 75 percent of victims were beaten, while 6 percent were beaten to death.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs recently met with NGOs to field suggested changes to the draft law on domestic violence before it is sent to the Council of Ministers, but sources said some of the proposed changes likely won’t make the final draft.
“In the law it states any act [committed against] family for the purpose of education is not considered domestic violence,” said Ly Sunlina, women’s rights coordinator for the rights group Licadho. “We are concerned that if this becomes law, the judge can say [the defendant] hit his [family] for education, freeing him from responsibility,” she said.
Ly Sunlina also emphasized the need for the law to explicitly protect unmarried couples and give commune chiefs the power to issue temporary protection orders when courts are inaccessible.
Earlier this month, officials expressed optimism that the law could be adopted as early as 2005.
“Of the many cases of domestic violence that we have addressed, most of the attackers have had little education and lacked knowledge and consideration because they only finished primary school,” said Lim Mony, head of Adhoc’s women’s section.
Experts offered conflicting opinions about the demographics of domestic violence. Ly Sunlina said Licadho was familiar with cases of government officials abusing their wives. But victims, particularly the affluent and better-educated, seldom report attacks to preserve their family’s honor.