Domestic Violence (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 begins tomorrow

     The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 will come into operation tomorrow (August 1).  With the new legislative provisions in place, the protection to victims of domestic violence would be greatly enhanced, a spokesman for the Labour and Welfare Bureau said.

     The Domestic Violence Ordinance provides civil remedies in the form of injunctive orders to protect primarily individuals in certain specified familial relationships and their children against molestation by the other person.  With effect from August 1, the scope of the ordinance will be expanded from covering molestation between married couples and heterosexual cohabitants, to also former spouse/cohabitants; immediate and extended family members.   

     ¡§Under the amended ordinance, the protection for minors under the age of 18 will also be greatly enhanced, as they will be able to apply for an injunction in their own right and with the assistance of their ¡¥next friends¡¦ against molestation by their parents, siblings, and specified immediate and extended family members.  The court may also vary or suspend a pre-existing custody or access order relating to a minor when it grants an exclusion order,¡¨ the spokesman said.  

     The court may, in granting a non-molestation order under the ordinance, require the abuser to attend an anti-violence programme approved by the Director of Social Welfare.  The anti-violence programme aims to change the attitude and behaviour of the abuser and prevent recurrence of violence.

     ¡§The court may also attach an authorisation of arrest to an injunction order if it is satisfied that the abuser has caused actual bodily harm to the applicant or the minor concerned, or it reasonably believes that the abuser will likely cause actual bodily harm to the applicant or the minor concerned,¡¨ he said.

     The maximum duration of an injunction order and authorisation of arrest will be extended to two years to tie in with the matrimonial and child custody related proceedings.

     The Government will continue its publicity efforts to increase public awareness of the much-expanded protection of the new legislation, and to help victims of domestic violence understand their rights, protection provided by law and support services available in the community.

Ends/Thursday, July 31, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:06