Legco expands protection of law on domestic violence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am

Victims who suffer domestic abuse at the hands of relatives will be able to seek the same court protection offered to spouses after a new law was passed yesterday.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung told lawmakers the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill would 'extend the coverage and enhance protection against domestic violence'.

The amendment would extend the coverage of the Domestic Violence Ordinance to people abused not only by present or former spouses, but present or former cohabitants, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins. The family members do not even have to live in the same premises. The amendment takes effect from August 1.

The maximum period of an injunction order would also be increased from six to 24 months.

Social welfare legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said domestic violence had surged to 7,500 cases last year, compared with 4,500 in 2006.

'A Hong Kong University survey commissioned by the government found that for every reported case, there were 99 hidden cases. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg,' he said.

Dr Cheung hailed the government's amendment and said many ideas suggested by concerned groups were included.

'However, we cannot be complacent. To think everything can be fixed by simply passing this amendment is totally wrong,' he said.

'Many other things are needed. We have to establish courts to specially deal with domestic violence to deal with this problem effectively. We have to offer shelter homes, financial assistance, counselling and other facilities to victims as well as to abusers,' Dr Cheung said.