Mar 12, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government says need for amending the flawed Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), which was introduced in 2005 with a view to eliminating domestic violence has now arisen considering the problems observed during the implementation of the Act during the last 12 years.
Sri Lanka's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), gave the impetus for the enactment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, No.34 of 2005, indicating the fact that it is a piece of legislation mainly to protect vulnerable individuals like women from domestic violence;
One of the flaws of the PDVA is that the Act is mainly concerned with protecting the victim rather than punishing the offender; and, deterrent punishment is imposed on the abuser only in the event of violation of the protection order, not otherwise.
Furthermore, the Domestic Violence Act fails to provide proper protection for abused women through the judicial system. The Act makes provision for the court to order counseling and the counsellors have often advised the female victims to return to the abusive environment and seek reconciliation with the abuser, thereby making redundant the protection order.
There is a lack of government sponsored shelter for the accommodation of victims of domestic violence who are then compelled to get back to their violent partner, which aggravates the situation of the female victim of violence on the one hand whilst rendering futile the efforts of the prosecutors on the other hand.
A Committee comprising of all stakeholders appointed to examine the matter after obtaining the views of the General Public as well, has submitted its recommendations for amending the Act.
Accordingly, amendments have been proposed to increase the categories of persons who can institute legal action on behalf of an adult person or children, subject to domestic violence, simplify the process of filing an application, remove the requirement of mandatory counseling in order to ensure the protection of an aggrieved party, amend the existing method of follow-up action, and implement temporary protection orders effectively.
Accordingly, the proposal made Minister of Women and Child Affairs Chandrani Bandara, to amend the prevention of Domestic Violence Act, No.34 of 2005 incorporating the suggested amendments, was approved by the Cabinet.