PROTECTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Kenya has witnessed an unprecedented rise in cases of domestic violence some unfortunately ending tragically with death. Many Kenyans unfortunately unaware that there is a law that specifically protects individuals from domestic violence namely the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act of 2015.
The act defines domestic violence as violence against a person, or threat of violence or of imminent danger to that person, by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a domestic relationship. The genius of the act is that it broadens the meaning of the word domestic relationship from the commonly accepted interpretation of a couple to include persons who have been previously been married, persons living in the same household, persons who are divorced, persons who are family members, persons who are engaged, persons who have children with each other and persons who have a close personal relationship.
The act goes further to define violence to include the following:
- Abuse that includes child marriage, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced wife inheritance, interference from in-laws, sexual violence within marriage, virginity testing and widow cleansing;
- damage to property;
- depriving an individual or hindering an individual from access to reasonable share of the facilities associated with the individuals place of residence;
- economic abuse;
- emotional or psychological abuse;
- forcible entry into an individual’s residence where the parties do not share the same residence;
- physical abuse;
- sexual abuse;
- verbal abuse; or
- any other conduct against a person, where such conduct harms or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health, or well-being of the person.
The act does not only protect you from actual infliction of the violence described above but also protects you in instances where you fear or there is imminent threat that that the violence above will be inflicted on you.
The Act has encompassed the new forms of violence and abuse that have arisen with the emergence of social media as long as the perpetrator is person with whom you have a close personal relationship. Such forms of violence include emotional abuse, psychological abuse, harassment, intimidation, stalking, verbal abuse and any other conduct against you that may cause imminent harm to your safety, health or well being.
Where there is domestic violence or where there is imminent threat of domestic violence as described above in any domestic relationship. The act gives you the power to apply for a protection order from court. A protection will among other things direct an aggressor, not do any one or more of the following actions against you:
- physically or sexually abuse or threaten to abuse you;
- damage, or threaten to damage, any your property;
- engage, or threaten to engage, in behaviour including intimidation or harassment, which amounts to psychological abuse against you;
- encourage any person to engage in behaviour against you where the behaviour, if engaged in by the aggressor would be prohibited by the order;
- engage, or threaten to engage, in behaviour including intimidation, harassment or stalking which amounts to emotional, verbal or psychological abuse against you;
- engage, or threaten to engage, in economic abuse against you; or
- engage, or threaten to engage, in cultural or customary rites or practices that abuse your person.
An aggressor who has been served with a copy of a protection order and who contravenes the order commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months, or to both.
The act further provides that where one suffers personal injuries or damage to property or financial loss as a result of the domestic violence, A court may ward compensation in respect of the injury or damage or loss where it deems just and reasonable.
The coming into force of the Act has hailed a new era in how we deal and react to acts of domestic violence against us be it in person or on social media. With the coming into force of this act you should not feel like you are living in hell from one day to the next. That there is nothing you can do to escape. That you don’t know where you would go if you acted. That you are utterly powerless, and that feeling is your prison.
We, as peaceful and loving citizens should at all instances stand up and condemn all instances of domestic violence, because domestic violence is raw and if unleashed has the capacity of tearing away the veil of civilization that keeps us sane. “In a healthy relationship, vulnerability is wonderful. It leads to increased intimacy and closer bonds. When a healthy person realizes that he or she hurt you, they feel remorse and they make amends. It’s safe to be honest. In an abusive system, vulnerability is dangerous. It’s considered a weakness, which acts as an invitation for more mistreatment. Abusive people feel a surge of power when they discover a weakness. They exploit it, using it to gain more power. Crying or complaining confirms that they’ve poked you in the right spot”― Christina Enevoldsen,
STAND UP AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE THE POWER IS WITHIN YOU
Sudi & Associates.