Domestic violence during the pandemic - Plataforma Media

Domestic violence during the pandemic

In order to stop the spread of Covid-19 and reduce human contact, many countries have implemented home isolation policies. However, this policy has also led to an increase in the time of coexistence between people living in the same house. If one of them is violent, it means that the other(s) will have to stay in the same space for a long time with someone who can, at some point, attack them out of control.

In addition to the economic recession, the increase in unemployment caused by the pandemic and the insecurity in the environment in general led to an increase in cases of domestic violence. According to a UN Women report carried out in 2021 in 13 countries, 1 in 4 women surveyed said that conflicts at home had become more frequent and that they felt more insecure at home.

According to paragraph 1 of art. 30 of the Basic Law of Macau, the human dignity of residents is inviolable. No. 2 of art. 67 of the Civil Code also provides that all persons have the right to protection against any unlawful offense or threat of harm to their physical or moral personality.

In order to promote respect for fundamental and personality rights (as well as other purposes), the Law for the Prevention and Combat of Domestic Violence was enacted in 2016, providing for both administrative and judicial protection mechanisms.

In administrative terms, according to art. 16 of the aforementioned law, the Social Action Institute may provide victims of domestic violence with the following protection and assistance measures:

1) Temporary shelter in social service facilities;

2) Emergency economic assistance, under the terms of the law;

3) Access to urgent legal aid;

4) Free access to health care provided by public health institutions, pursuant to Decree-Law nº 24/86/M, of 15 March, with the necessary adaptations, for the treatment of injuries resulting from domestic violence;

5) Assistance in accessing education or employment;

6) Individual and family counseling;

7) Provision of legal information and advice services;

8) Other protection and assistance measures necessary to guarantee their safety and well-being.

From a judicial perspective, anyone who, within a family or similar relationship, inflicts physical, psychological or sexual abuse on another person is punished with a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years.

Similar relationships include relationships between people living in a situation similar to that of spouses, between ex-spouses, as well as guardianship or curatorship relationships and other situations, such as that of a domestic worker who takes care of a minor when there is cohabitation.

In addition to the conviction for the crime of domestic violence, accessory penalties may also be applied to the agent, e.g., prohibition of contacting, harassing or following the victim (cf. Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence).

In addition to the Law for the Prevention and Combat of Domestic Violence, Title I of Book II of the Penal Code itself provides for a series of crimes, such as the crime of simple offense to physical integrity, the crime of serious offense to physical integrity, the crime of of mistreatment or overloading of minors and incapable persons, the crime of threat, the crime of coercion, the crime of kidnapping and the crime of sexual abuse of children, which protect personal legal assets and, depending on the specific circumstances, may also apply in cases of domestic violence.

Finally, if someone is faced with a situation of domestic violence, there are several channels of help available in the community.

You can seek assistance from the Social Action Institute (the IAS 24-hour domestic violence hotline is 28233030), private organizations and law enforcement agencies (the emergency hotline is 999).

Employees of any public or private entity have the duty to maintain professional secrecy in relation to information on cases of domestic violence that they become aware of in the exercise of their functions or activity, even after the end of the same, without prejudice to the duty communication and reporting obligations imposed by law.

In any case, to avoid the total loss of evidence, the victim must take photograph(s) of the injured body part(s); and, in case of going to hospital for treatment by a psychiatrist, the victim must keep the receipt(s) and request a medical report (cf. Domestic Violence, article 225 of the Criminal Procedure Code and article 336 of the Criminal Code).

*Lektou trainee lawyer

Este artigo está disponível em: Português

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