A LOT of people want the Family Protection Act to become a law.
That was according to the Chief Judge of New Zealand Family Court Justice Peter Boshier, who was in the country last week.
He was following up on the Act, which he had a lot of input into.
Parliament passed the bill late last year, but it was yet to be enacted.
“Everyone just wants to use this wonderful Act,” Justice Boshier said, referring to those who he met during his visit.
“I can sense that they too are frustrated because there was just so much domestic violence,” he added.
“They actually want to do something.
“And they see people as dying now through domestic violence that they think they could do something about if the Act was in force.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs knows that it’s for the Ministry of Justice to fix the gazette notice.
“I think they are going to talk along with the Minister of Justice to see if we can get a firm start date, maybe early next year,” Justice Boshier said.
The Family Protect Act was aimed at addressing the high rate of domestic violence cases here.
Justice Boshier was here in August last year facilitating a workshop on family violence and youth justice.
During that workshop, the Family Protection Bill was also discussed by participants from the judiciary before it was passed in parliament.
He said the Act is probably the best in the Pacific because it has got so inclusive on all things that are needed.
But he said since it was passed there was the election, a new government and therefore nothing much has happened since its passage.
Justice Boshier said the Police Commissioner told him he was committed to eliminating family violence.
He said during his visit and meeting with senior officials, he began to realise what people were really wanting was for someone to fix a date to when the Act was going to start.
He met with the officials from the Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs and they too wanted this Act to become a law.
“They were asking us how long we thought a good time was and we are trying to tell them, it’s up to the Ministry of Justice and surely about a year from now is right because certain amount of time is needed for preparation.
The judge said the one of messages he picked up very loud and clear from police and those he met is a lot of domestic violence is associated with alcohol abuse.
“Most violence we were told in Solomon Islands does not occur at streets but at home.”
He said according to figures he picked from the World Health Organisation survey, about 68 percent of women have reported family violence.
“It seems to me from police it was accurate, people have confirmed it.”
He said the incidents in reporting may rise, there is a new offence of violence that hasn’t been there before, and it’s just the penal code to use.
“Just because incidents of reporting and charges arises does not mean the problem is becoming worse, it may mean better accountability.
He said what everyone is worried about is the awareness in the community about the Family Protection Act.
“Will the communities know about the act and will they know how to use it?
“The more you know about something the more you are going to use it.”
Justice Boshier said he also met with the magistrates and they are concern that women who apply for protection orders will need some refuge, somewhere to go to.
“And those who get orders made against them, made safety orders against them or sentence as result of breaching, we will need resource, a prison or maybe a community centre.
“Maybe get some women’s centre up and running and maybe some refuges for men who suddenly find they are not allowed to go back home.
“And where will they go, they could go to relatives but some may have nowhere to go.”
“I found from police about 70 to 80 are family violence per month which is about 700 a year.
He said with this amount of family violence, it is better to have a date fixed to enact the law and work towards it.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN