To what extent have both legal and non-legal responses been effective in dealing with the conflicts associated with ONE contemporary issue facing families (domestic violence)
Domestic violence is a conspicuous issue concerning families. Under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW), domestic violence is a personal violence committed against someone with whom the offender has, or, has had, a domestic relationship. This Act was passed in order to assert the criminal nature of violence and assault.
Domestic violence is associated with numerous issues such as psychological disorders, physical injuries, and financial issues. Legal responses including Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders and various legislations, along with non-legal responses such as support services, educational programs and the media have been successful to a large extent in dealing with the conflicts linked to domestic violence.
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A large issue associated with domestic violence is the victims fear of continued abuse after the relationship has ended. This is apparent in the case of R v. Yusuf Aytugrul 2009 (NSW) who had begun stalking Ms. Bayrak, a woman he had a previous relationship with. He took it to lengthy extents leading Ms. Bayrak to move houses twice, both times Yusuf gained her address and showed up to her house on Saturday 26 November, stabbing her to death. This case has emphasised the importance of dealing with issues of domestic violence. As the result of several women being stalked and killed by their ex-partners who had been released on bail, the automatic presumption in favour of bail was removed under the Bail Act 1978 (NSW). An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) would be suitable for individuals who have been abused as it restricts the behaviour of the offender by preventing them from being within a certain distance of the victim thus being unable to assault or intimidate them. These orders are extremely effective in the sense that they are quick, inexpensive, an accessible form of protection and if breached they are completely supported by the law. The original legislation had been extended in February 1988 to include other family members such as ex-partners, boyfriends, and persons living within the same household. This law reform reflects shifting attitude to domestic violence as it is recognised as a community issue. Reforms of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) state that when an ADVO is issued against someone, their firearms licence is automatically revoked and the police are required to seize any weapons. This allows the victim to feel less vulnerable. Also, changes were made to the Family Reform Act 1995 (cwlth) to consider the impact on the residential parent of a child who is in contact with a violent ex- partner.
A controversial issue in regards to domestic violence is the provocation known as battered womans syndrome. This involves women who have been subject to drastic domestic violence over a long period thus murdering their spouse due to this disturbance of their psychological wellbeing. This can be seen in the case of R v. Kina 1993 CA (Qld) who had murdered her de-facto partner after extensive sexual and physical abuse. Robyn Kina stated that what triggered the murder was her partners threat to repeat the same sexual violence on her niece. Under section 304B of the Criminal Code, a person guilty of murder may be liable to manslaughter if history of domestic violence is shown. This is an effective response in dealing with the repercussions of violence on mental health. It provides greater justice for the battered woman for if she had not been provoked, the murder would not have taken place.
Any individual can be a exposed to domestic violence. However, majority of victims are women and children. The White Ribbon Foundation, a campaign run by men, seeks to change the attitudes that lead to violence against women. Many women do not report domestic violence as they may be financially dependent on their offender or they do not have a place to stay. Support services such as Dads in Distress, The Wesley Mission and the Department for Child Protection provide accommodation, counselling and mediation, transport, and access to legal advice, police assistance and income support. These services provide victims with the assistance and support that they need to recover their sense of identity and self-esteem. This is highly beneficial for children as they are financially, psychologically and emotionally dependent on their parents although the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CROC) declares that no child should be subject to violence and neglect.
Educational programs such as the Domestic and Dating Violence Peer Education Program are effective means of dealing with domestic violence and preventing abuse. They strive to educate potential offenders and victims about the consequences of domestic violence aswell as encouraging victims or witnesses of this abuse to report the problem to the police. This gives an insight to the community about the issue.
The media has been productive in highlighting the issue of domestic violence. Programs such as Today Tonight enable victims to share their stories of abuse to the broad public thus raising awareness and promoting justice. Highlighting this abuse has led to more attentive enforcement of court orders and changes in social attitudes towards domestic violence. This is evident in the case of Jean Majdalawi 1996. Jean had been shot 5 times outside Paramatta Family Court by her ex-husband despite having a restraining order against him. Film footage of where Jean had been killed had been shown in the nightly television news program and the public had been outraged leading the New South Wales Government to implement reforms that improved security for women with court orders against violent individuals.
Consequently, the issues associated with domestic violence are effectively dealt with by legal responses including Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders and government legislations, along with non-legal responses such as support services, educational programs and the media.
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