Welfare officers will be empowered to protect domestic violence victims, minister says


Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, July 18 — Some 1,600 Welfare Department (JKM) officers will be empowered to issue an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) to provide immediate protection to victims of domestic violence, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim.

She said it was among five reforms included in the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017 which was expected to be tabled for the second and third readings in Dewan Rakyat at the next Parliamentary sitting.

Through the amendment, she said, authorised officers are empowered by JKM director-general to issue ex-parte temporary order effective for one week to protect domestic violence victims during a state of emergency.

“Currently all JKM officers are in the midst or have undergone the relevant course. The ministry wants all JKM officers in the field to be well-trained,” she told reporters at a briefing session on the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017 to media practitioners here today.She said the EPO would provide protection to domestic violence victims by preventing the perpetrator from hurting the victim, inciting others to commit domestic violence or the perpetrator from entering a safe place, shelter, residence, joint residence or alternative residence.

Rohani said the amendment to the Bill was to beef up the protection of the victims and restore the family institution.

At present the victims could only obtain an interim protection order (IPO) and protection order from the court but many complaints against domestic violence occured during the weekends when they could not get the order immediately as the court was not in session, she said.

She said the EPO is effective for a period of one week and if the perpetrator committed violence against the protected person, he could be liable to a fine of RM4,000 or jail of not more than one year or both. Action can also be taken against those found to have given false evidence under Section 181 of the Penal Code.

Rohani said victims of domestic violence could get the EPO directly from the department’s offices or they could also contact the 24-hour Nur line.

Police statistics from 2014 to 2016 revealed that 15,617 cases of domestic violence were reported in the country, including 26 per cent of male victims. — Bernama