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Report Identifies Challenges in Prevention of Domestic Violence after Law Reform

      The Committee of Specialists on Violence against Women, set up within the Council for Gender Equality of the Cabinet Office of Japan, issued a report On the Implementation of the Spousal Violence Prevention Law(Japanese) on 14 March 2007. The Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims (DV Prevention Law), which took effect in 2001 and was amended in 2004, provides that the implementation of its provisions should be reviewed when approximately three years have passed after its entry into force, with a view to taking necessary measures. The expert committee's report identifies remaining challenges in the implementation for possible modifications in legislation as well as in the basic policy concerning this issue.
      The expert committee proposes that not only physical violence but also intimidation should be covered by the protection order; that contact through the phone, fax or e-mails should also be prohibited by the order against contact, which is now limited to prohibition of stalking after the victim or loitering in the vicinity of his/her domicile or workplace; and that the victim's relatives and supporters should also be protected by the protection order. The proposals are based on the following facts:

  • While the 2004 amendments expanded the scope of the definition of "violence" to cover both physical and psychological violence, the latter is not subject to the protection order under the existing provisions.
  • According to the report on Outcomes of the Survey on Supportive Measures for Promoting Self-Reliance of the Victims of Spousal Violence,[PDF164KB](Japanese) issued in January 2007, 54.7% of the victims responded that they had been stalked by the perpetrators after separation. 62.3% of them had received electronic or postal mails, and 54.3% stated that the perpetrators had visited their friends or parents' home.
  • While the beneficiaries of the protection order were also expanded to cover not only spouses but also former spouses and children through the 2004 amendments, the victims' relatives or supporters have also been harmed by the perpetrators in some cases.
      With a view to promoting self-reliance of the victims, the expert committee also proposes the expansion of supportive measures, such as securing immediate living costs and housing, as well as improved collaboration of the relevant bodies. It also points out that medical personnel, who may report to support centers or the police when they find suspected victims and who should seek to provide them with information on support centers, are not performing their duties in an appropriate manner.
      Given the fact that 93% of the respondents in the January survey stated that they have children, the expert committee indicated the need to expand supportive measures, including psychological care of victims' children. Other challenges include the reinforcement of and support to women's counseling centers, support centers and private organizations as well as the development of programmes for perpetrators.
      Meanwhile, the National Police Agency announced[PDF12KB](Japanese) on 8 March 2007 that the number of cases of domestic violence reported to the police in 2006 was 18,236, representing 8% increase from the figure in the previous year.

See:
· "Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims"
· On the Implementation of the Spousal Violence Prevention Law, Council for Gender Equality, the Cabinet Office [Japanese]
· Outcomes of the Survey on Supportive Measures for Promoting Self-Reliance of the Victims of Spousal Violence [PDF 164KB], Council for Gender Equality, the Cabinet Office [Japanese]
· "On the responses to spousal violence" [PDF 12KB], National Police Agency [Japanese]


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