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Submission on the Domestic Violence Bill 2017

In June 2017, we made a submission to the Minister for Justice and Equality on the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. In our submission, we welcomed the stated aim of this Bill to improve protections available to victims of domestic violence, as well as specific provisions to create a new criminal offence of forced marriage and to remove the exemption for underage marriage.

Our submission focused on how the legislation could be further improved to safeguard the rights of children experiencing or exposed to domestic violence, including with regard to applications for court orders under the Bill and the availability of special protection measures. In this regard, it is our view that children need to be recognised not only as ‘dependents’ of a victim, but also as rights-holders who can be both witnesses to and victims of domestic violence. Increasing the corresponding visibility of children in the Bill would strengthen the legislation considerably.