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Stakeholders discuss draft of proposed Domestic Violence Bill |05 August 2013

Stakeholders have discussed, given their inputs and made recommendations on the draft of a proposed Domestic Violence Bill.
This was during a consultative workshop held yesterday at the STC conference hall.

Taking part in the discussions were lawyers, judges, representatives from the attorney general’s office, civil societies, churches, service providers, the police, among others.
Linda William-Melanie, the principal secretary for social affairs, launched the discussions.

Addressing those present she said domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence have been described as the most common human rights abuse not only in our country but worldwide.
“It is a disease which attacks our relationships, families and communities on pandemic proportions,” she stressed.
She said the proposed piece of legislation has long been awaited and long in the making.

“Lobbying for and advocating for better laws on gender-based violence started well over a decade ago,” she pointed out.
She said there is a general agreement on the need to strengthen laws on domestic violence through criminalisation therefore more inputs and recommendations will ensure we come up with something suitable for the reality and challenges specific for Seychelles.

At present our laws do not recognise domestic violence as a criminal act and the Family Violence Act only provides protection to victims and does not deal with the criminal behaviour of the perpetrator.

The need for the Domestic Violence Bill is clear from the continued rise in the number and severity of cases of violence reported to all the main service providers.
Seychelles has ratified international obligations which uphold the government’s duty to prevent, investigate, punish, and provide compensation for all acts of violence against women and girls wherever they occur.

Local legal consultant Ellen Carolus drafted the Bill helped by a drafting committee set up by the social affairs department.

Ms Carolus made presentations on the various parts of the draft document which includes how to handle complaints and investigations of domestic violence, the process of applying for a protection order, the different offences and penalties and services that exist.

The draft of the Bill has been developed with technical expertise sponsored through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and support from the UN Women.

The enactment of a Domestic Violence Act for Seychelles was proposed by President James Michel in 2007 following which a national Domestic Violence Strategy was developed.

Marie-Josée Bonne, special advisor for social affairs and a member of the drafting committee, said the aim is to get as much input and recommendations from as many stakeholders as possible in order to come up with a final piece of legislation which would be effective and easy to apply and on which our people could rely and seek recourse in time of abuse.




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