What is Family Violence?
Section 64 of the current Women’s Charter defines “family violence” as the commission of any of the following acts:
- willfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt;
- causing hurt to a family member by such act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt;
- wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his will; or
- causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.
The Provision and its Significance
Under the Women’s Charter (Pt VII ‘Protection of Family), family members are protected from violent conduct which emanates from within the victim’s own family, such as the situation where one member of the family threatens to inflict or inflicts violence another.
Victims may apply to court for a Personal Protection Order.
This is important as fear and threats of further acts of violence are more eminent when it comes from a family member as compared to a stranger.
Furthermore, the fact that children may become involved and therefore threatened increases the importance of protecting family members against acts of domestic violence.
Family members as defined in Section 64 of the Women’s Charter refer to:
- a spouse or former spouse of the person;
- a child of the person, including an adopted child and a step-child;
- a father or mother of the person;
- a father-in-law or mother-in-law of the person;
- a brother or sister of the person; or
- any other relative of the person or an incapacitated person who in the opinion of the court should, in the circumstances, in either case be regarded as a member of the family of the person.
The provision protects all persons listed above.