Are we there yet? Ending domestic violence
Dated: 07 December 2016
Have you ever experienced or seen any couple or members of family, yelling, or fighting in your neighbourhood or in a public place? Do you feel uncomfortable in that situation? How would you imagine yourself if this happened to be you? And how would you try to fix the situation? These are the question that I always ask myself when I experience this kind of situation; widely recognised as domestic violence.
In most cases, women and children who are subject to domestic violence suffer entrenched, long-standing consequences, especially those suffering physically or mentally.
Such violence can be an impediment to someone exercising their rights, and can be in violation of international human rights law as recognised in many international instruments. Despite the existence of international laws addressing respect of human rights, women and children are being abused in their homes. Hence, the effective enforcement and implementation of international and domestic laws is vital to improve the critical situation. In Thailand, for example, there may be some progressive development in this regard. Thailand has enforced The Domestic Violence Victim Protection Act of B.E. 2550 (2007) which aims to protect victims from domestic violence, and to punish, as well as reform, offenders.
However, there are some challenges on the application of this law since it requires a formality and time-consuming process in investigating and coordinating with external agencies. Also, China passed its first national law dealing with “family violence” as stipulated in the law itself, yet limited to narrow interpretation of the law as divorced couples or former partners are not subject to the protection. Neither are sexual abuse or economic control subject to the protection of this law in contrast to the purposes of the law in ending all forms of violence. Despite the existence of legal challenges in terms of definition and scope of application, this could signal an improved condition of society in recognition of, and in addressing the significance of human rights, especially women’s and child’s rights.
However, the existence of laws may not adequately address and deal with the on-going, critical violence, specifically on women and children. Laws as preventive measures might not be adequate in ensuring the respect of human’s rights, since those suffering such violence might not recognise their rights, and go on living in fear, shame and embarrassment. Therefore, non-legal measures must also be taken into account, in helping convey awareness of the right to live free of fear. Public awareness measures are duly required to guide women and children in understanding that abuse or violence are not acceptable and must not be tolerated.
To this end, we need strong collaboration from all concerned in putting an end to domestic violence, providing protection, and promoting human rights: human beings are supposed to live from fear, free from wants, and to have freedom.
Kritsakorn Masee, a graduate student from the Faculty of Law with major of international laws, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and now supporting the communications unit of UN Women Asia and the Pacific Regional Office in advocating "Gender Equality" and "Ending Violence Against Women" through his legal expertise.