Defining Domestic Violence

In the aforementioned case: O'B. V O'B. a barring order was initially granted and the respondents appeal of this allowed the barring order to be temporarily dropped, allowing the respondent to re-enter the home until a final ruling was made. This could have placed the applicant in grave danger and no doubt added to her previous nervous strain. Also, the different rulings in each case show that different judges interpretations of the Act cause inconsistencies with regard to who deserves relief.

Fine Gael Seanad Justice & Equality Spokesperson Senator Sheila Terry, feels that Gardai need to be equipped with video cameras to take to domestic violence crime scenes and gather evidence at an early stage, as happens in the U. K. When speaking of this need she stated: On average there are 22 incidents of domestic violence every day, yet according to the most recent Garda Annual Report fewer then one in ten incidents resulted in conviction in 2002. The number of convictions between 2001 and 2002 dropped 49% from 1,286 to 651.

Yet the number of reported incidents rose from 9,983 to 10,248 in the same period. A one in ten conviction rate will do nothing to encourage women to report crimes. Studies have shown that 46% of reports of domestic violence are retracted (Fine Gael, 2004:1). A leading expert in family law matters, Michael Freeman, has described the remedies for domestic violence as being 'of little more value than sticking plaster is to a broken leg' (Fine Gael, 2004: 2). CONCLUSION

In widening the category of persons entitled to protective orders, it is clearly a socially conscious and practical piece of legislation open to the changing nature of adult relationships. As a whole, it deserves positive appreciation in relation to the social aim of increasing the options of protective orders available to those often-silent victims of domestic violence. It provides "a short sharp shock" for the violent perpetrator and in doing so says that domestic violence is no longer a "behind closed doors" familial phenomena (Horgan, 1998).

Many of the weaknesses of the Act are as a result of drafting oversights and the constitutional restraints that have been discussed. While the Act presently may cause injustice to certain categories of persons not covered, legislative intervention may easily remedy these failings given that the core principles of the Act are fundamentally sound. Domestic violence is a recognised problem with remedies available. It is therefore unrealistic to say that victims are hidden away with no help.


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