Virginity Testing, Wife Inheritance, widow cleansing..to be classified as domestic Violence

VIRGINITY testing, widow cleansing, forced marriage and forced wife inheritance will now be classified as domestic violence under the new family protection law.

Police will not require a warrant to arrest a person suspected to have assaulted a family member if the bill becomes law. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill, 2013 empowers the police to arrest any person believed to have violated the Act.

They may also prefer charges where they “reasonably believe” that a suspect is committing, or is likely to breach the peace. The Bill to be tabled in Parliament next week also proposes the provision of temporary emergency centres or safe houses for victims of domestic violence.

“In designing the mechanisms referred, the county executives shall adequately provide the protection required by victims of domestic violence without exposing the victims to further or other forms of violation and without compromising the values of the constitution.” reads part 8(4)(b) of the bill.

The bill allows victims of domestic violence to apply for a protection order. A child may also make a similar application through a guardian, children’s officer or a police officer.

The law will take care of minors who have been married below the age of consent and those already married may apply for protection order. The Bill criminalizes repeated insults, ridicule or name-calling and repeated threats that “cause emotional pain” within the family.

Child marriage, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced wife inheritance, interference from in-laws and sexual violence within marriage, virginity testing and widow cleansing will now be classified as ‘domestic violence’.

Nyeri women’s representative Priscilla Nyokabi told a public forum at Panafric Hotel yesterday that the bill will be debated in Parliament next week.

“The constitution recognises the family as a natural and fundamental unit of the society and necessary basis of social order which should enjoy recognition and protection. This bill will ensure the family is protected from domestic violence to enhance development,” Nyokabi said.

“The police in the past used to refer violence as family issues that ought to be solved as such. The new law will enable them arrest and prefer charges on victims without turning them away,” Nyokabi said. The MP said victims are sometimes afraid of reporting domestic violence.

“Court taking into account circumstances of each case can direct the parties to participate in counselings and conciliation programmes including those provided by religious institutions and any suitable cultural programme,” the bill states.

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