The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. With recent reports of heinous crimes among partners, it’s timely for us to examine possible legal measures to mitigate and prevent domestic violence. As such, we will review what is a “Protection Order”, and how it can be utilized in circumstances of domestic violence.
Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act gives the Parish Court or the Family Court power to grant Protection Order or Occupation Order to an applicant. Applications may be made by:
- a spouse, including a common law spouse and a former spouse,
- persons who are involved in visiting relationships,
- a child or dependant residing in the home,
- a parent of that child or dependant,
- a social worker,
- a constable or other persons living in the household, with the permission of the court.
The Protection Order can prohibit the Respondent from entering or remaining in the house, workplace or school of the Applicant and prohibits the Respondent from waylaying or making persistent or abusive telephone calls. An Occupation Order gives the Applicant the right to occupy the home excluding the Respondent. Such an order can be made on a temporary basis or for a specific period. The occupation order may be effective to cause the owner of the home to be removed from his/her residence.
It is known that victims of domestic violence sometimes choose to remain silent because of fear or the financial dependence on the Abuser. However, abuse in whatever form can become ominous and you should know what options the Jamaican law provides to protect you. A breach of the Order is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. Take immediate steps to ensure your safety and that of your family before it is too late.
Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)