Justice minister Yvonne Dausab on Wednesday tabled the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Bill in Parliament.
While tabling the bill, Dausab said more needs to be done to end violence against vulnerable persons, and the amended bill is a step in that direction as it enables policymakers to take the lead in changing the attitudinal and social patterns and to raise increased awareness about the rights of women and children.
She said it is a common fact that the level of violence and discrimination against women and children in particular during the past three years has become alarming, a fact that was exemplified by the recent demonstrations across Namibia asking the Government to tackle gender-based and sexual violence.
According to statistics released by the police last year, 5 961 GBV cases were opened between September 2019 to September 2020 while 892 cases were withdrawn for various reasons. “Combating violence against women and children, in particular, is, therefore, neither optional nor an act of charity,” she said.
Dausab highlighted that among others, the amended bill extends the scope of a domestic relationship to the primary caretaker of a child and clarifies that a domestic relationship between a child and a parent continues even after the child has reached 18 years of age.
She said the importance of the extension lies in the fact that any person who is in a domestic relationship is entitled to apply for a protection order against another person who is in that domestic relationship.
In addition, the Bill strengthens the safeguards against the intimidation of complainants by further empowering the courts to postpone inquiries to consider whether the steps taken by station commanders are sufficient, and if not, to make an order for any further police action that may be required to protect the complainant or applicant.
The Bill also makes provision for the issuing of emergency protection orders in cases where it is impossible for a person who requires protection to make an application at the nearest court.
It amongst others, further requires notification of any breach of a protection order by a police officer who opens the docket to the clerk of the court which issued the protection order to ensure that a notation is entered on the relevant file.