New domestic violence laws to aid victims in court
A series of reforms aimed at strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence will be considered by the Cabinet today.
They include plans which would allow domestic violence victims living with the perpetrator to get a barring order lasting up to eight days.
There are also a series of measures which aim to make the process of giving evidence in court easier.
The proposals are contained in a new Domestic Violence Bill being proposed by Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
The bill allows for:
- A court, when making a safety order or barring order, to prohibit a perpetrator of domestic violence from communicating with the victim electronically;
- A victim to be accompanied to court by a person of his or her choice to provide support during the hearing;
- Victims to have the opportunity to give evidence by live television link both in civil cases and in criminal cases for breaches of orders;
- Restrictions to be placed on who can be in a courtroom during proceedings involving domestic violence.
The proposed legislation would also allow for courts to protect the identity of victims.
Children would be given the opportunity to make their views known to the court where an order is sought on behalf of a child or relates in part to a child.
The bill also introduces a new criminal offence of forced marriage and will repeal exemptions which enable people under the age to 18 to marry.
Meanwhile, Women's Aid said victims of domestic abuse had disclosed how the extra stress of Christmas can trigger more frequent and, at times, more severe abuse from partners.