Bill offers hope for abused

| 18/11/2009

(CNS): A bill designed to update the existing law and which contains wider protection to women, children, families and other victims from the scourge of domestic abuse will, if it’s passed, offer hope to many who suffer behind closed doors. The consultation period for the new legislation has been extended until the end of November, and officials hope those who have experienced this kind of violence and abuse will add their comments and contributions to ensure the new law will have teeth and protect the vulnerable.

The minister with responsibility for gender affairs, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, welcomed the Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill, 2009 which will repeal the 17-year-old Summary Jurisdiction (Domestic Violence) Law.

“I am encouraging members of the public to give their suggestions and recommendations on this key law, which is only going to strengthen our families and thereby the fabric of our community,” O’Connor-Connolly said. “This is a very important piece of legislation, as it gives social services officers, law enforcement and prosecutors better tools with which to advocate for those affected by domestic violence.”

The bill is currently posted on the GIS website and has been circulated for public discussion by the Law Reform Commission. The discussion period ends on Monday, 30 November, following an extension from the original 20 November deadline.

It defines more specifically what actions constitute domestic violence; details who is protected; defines who is considered a child under the law; types of court orders available; and who may initiate proceedings.

“The expanded definition of what constitutes domestic violence is a major step forward, as it gives broader coverage to victims. We know from experience that domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse,” the minister added. According to the bill, “a person commits an act of domestic violence against a prescribed person where it is proved that his conduct caused or is intended to cause emotional or psychological; financial, physical or sexual abuse.”

Gender affairs policy advisor inthe ministry, Tammy Ebanks Bishop explained that the review of this legislation came about as a result of the recommendations contained in the special report on gender violence, which was submitted to Cabinet in December 2008 by a special advisory committee on gender violence. Ebanks Bishop said the various expansions of definitions and provisions being proposed in the new bill aim to provide protection to the most vulnerable people who are, or who may become, victims of domestic violence.

The bill addresses a number of problems presented by the old law such as the constraint of domestic violence to the marital home. Abuse and violence can often occur between couples who no longer reside in the same house but because of child-ties may still spend considerable time together. The new law also takes in consideration the changing definition of family and the more complex modern relationships that exist in today’s reality.

For more information, or to provide feedback on the Protection against Domestic Violence Bill, please visit

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  1. blah says:

    Lip service will be paid to the problem and nothing more will be done about it.  Of course they’ll make an example of one or two low lives who can’t even afford legal aid, but as for the big cahunas, they’ll carry on as usual…

  2. Disappointed says:

    I am most disappointed by the lack of response to this very rampant problem in our society. I encourage people to read the new law and provide their comments/suggestions.

    Two areas of concern I have:

    1) The law enforcement brotherhood of police, firemen, immigration officers, custom officers, and the elite such as politicians, doctors etc who turn a blind eye to this issue and cover up for their buddies is alarming. Unless someone is made an example of this will continue to flourish in our society. The new law empowers police officers to actually report the crime directly taking the onus off the scared victim, which is great. However, I wonder how many will actually turn in their buddies?

    It must be very difficult for social workers to counsel young abusers/abusees when some of the most successful top echelons of our society are abusing their wifes/girlfriends with absolutely no consequence. So to both the abused and abuser it signifies that it is not a big deal and that it is somehow "normal" because of the far reaching acceptance of the issue.

    2) The amount of young girls being beaten by their boyfriends is also astouding. There is no child or formal live in relationship so to speak. So how are they protected?

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a disappointing level of response to a huge problem in the society. I don’t know if it is denial or apathy. If one has ever seen or come in contact with domestic violence then they would understand first hand the seriousness of this problem. 

    It seems to be intergenerational so the behavior seems to be passed on from father to son or from mother to daughter.

    Without upsetting the gentle spiris in the Cayman Islands domestic violence is a huge problem here- now.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lets hope that this legislation will not only protect women but the men in our society who are abused. Not because they are the "stronger" sex physically means that they are not abused.

  5. A wha gwan says:

    What about the men that suffer abuse at the hands of a woman?

  6. Thankful says:

    I happy to see this and believe that this legislation is much needed.  I hope that this law will include the provision for the Police to arrest on the spot the abuser and remove them immediately from the home, when there is just visible evidence of a distrubance.  This is what is done in teh states.  the onous is then not on the victim to speak up in front of the Police.  The Police makes a judgement call on the spot, based on the visible evidence or any witness to the disturbance so as to immidiately difuse the matter; further, that person (the male or female perpetrator) is not allowed back to the house until after a court trial.