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Domestic Violence and abuse


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Domestic Violence and abuse in South Africa

Domestic violence is regulated by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. The Act was introduced in 1998 with the purpose of affording women protection from domestic violence by creating obligations on law enforcement bodies, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), to protect victims as far as possible.

The Act attempts to provide victims of domestic violence with an accessible legal instrument with which to prevent further abuses taking place within their domestic relationships.

The Act recognises that domestic violence is a serious crime against our society, and extends the definition of domestic violence to include not only married women and their children, but also unmarried women who are involved in relationships or living with their partners, people in same-sex relationships, mothers and their sons, and other people who share a living space.

Domestic violence can take a variety of forms and generally includes the following acts: physical and sexual abuse; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; Economic abuse; Intimidation; Harassment; Stalking; and damage to property.

Victims of domestic violence have the following options: You have the right to: apply for a protection order at the nearest police station or magistrate's court; or lay a criminal charge at the police station and apply for a protection order.

A protection order, also called a restraining order or domestic violence interdict, is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. It may also help ensure that the abuser continues to pay rent or a bond or interim maintenance. The protection order may also prevent the abuser from getting help from any other person to commit abusive acts.

Date: 25th February 2014
Legislation: Domestic Violence Act, 116 of 1998

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