Attorney wants Domestic Violence Act to protect abused men
THOMAS...the Domestic Violence Act doesn't look on the protection of men as being the persons who are being abused

ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Michelle Thomas is proposing amendments to the Domestic Violence Act to provide more protection for men who are being abused in their homes.

Although Thomas said having the legislation is a guideline for rule of law and for peace, safety and justice for public citizens, she argued that the standpoint is always from the female's perspective and not the male.

“The Act should be amended; we can always start there because we have had an increase in domestic violence. [But] the Domestic Violence Act doesn't look on the protection of men as being the persons who are being abused. It always takes the standpoint of the female and so that's a big shortcoming,” Thomas told the Jamaica Observer.

“Oftentimes men are afraid to report these incidents because they are ridiculed and laughed at because they don't have much [protection] under the law,” she added, pointing out that there is no provision in the Act to prevent these types of action when men make these reports.

Proposing that the Act be amended to ensure that police take these domestic violence reports by men seriously, Thomas said, “Generally when there is a case of domestic violence, you have to go to the police station and lay the report. What tends to happen when men go to the police station to do so, they are normally ridiculed so it becomes a deterrent from them getting help. Because the police officers themselves don't take the matter seriously and so the likelihood of their issue being addressed is minimal in comparison to if it was a female who made the report.”

Adding that the issue of gender plays a [role] in domestic violence because the law seems to favour women, Thomas concluded that not amending the law “goes against [positive] social transformation and educating the people”.

Thomas, however, advised the Government to consult with the public before any amendments to the legislation is made.

“Consultation with the people is the most important thing when considering legislation. A lot of the times when we make the legislation we [think] we are making it for ourselves. We are making it for our people and for the future of our country. I feel we have lost our way in knocking on the doors and asking people how they feel about this legislation, who can they make it better,” she said.

BY CANDICE HAUGHTON Observer staff reporter haughtonc@jamaicaobserver.com

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