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Critique of Policy and Practice regarding Domestic Violence

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Domestic violence, which can be referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), family violence, spousal abuse, and domestic abuse is defined as an array of abusive actions by one spouse against the other in a close relationship for instance cohabitation, family, dating or marriage. As defined, domestic violence comes in a number of forms, comprising economic deprivation, inactive/concealed abuse (e.g., desertion); stalking; intimidation; domineering and controlling; emotional abuse; sexual abuse; threats and the most common physical violence or attack (throwing objects slapping, restraining, shoving, biting, kicking, hitting). Alcohol intake and mental disorder pre dispose one to performing domestic violence, and ultimately present further problems in eradicating domestic violence in the UK. Consciousness, awareness, documentation and definition of domestic violence vary extensively from nation to nation, and from era to era. In the UK, there are certain policies and practices that have been set in place to deal with issues of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is highly influenced by diversity as diversity is a concept which involves understanding the uniqueness of every individual and accepting their differences. Therefore, different societies or communities have different perspectives toward domestic violence. These differences may include race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, financial status, social status, age, cultural and religious beliefs and practices, physical abilities and other ideologies. It involves a society seeing beyond these differences and moving forward to co-exist peacefully regardless of these dimensions of diversity.

Domestic violence is an abuse of the concept of equality as equality, refers to the act of treating individuals alike regardless of their status in the society. This kind of treatment believes in fairness to all persons.  Equality is an aspect, which should be considered relevant when implementing laws and policies of a country. It seeks to ensure that irrational decisions are avoided in the decision-making process. It prevents formulation of policies, which may disadvantage other members of the society.

Discrimination refers to treating individuals by putting them at a disadvantage. Certain aspects of domestic violence are a form of discrimination whereby women, who are the majority victims of domestic violence, are exposed to domestic violence due to their gender. In a justice system, this may refer to treating individuals in a manner, which prevents them from seeking fair treatment concerning their rights (Webster, 2007).

Though it is evident that major efforts have been made to protect individuals from various forms of domestic violence, the issue is still rampant in the modern society. Domestic violence is versatile and affects people of diverse races, ethnicities, cultures, religion, gender, physical abilities and national origin. It affects the relationships within families and the psychological health of children.

Britain is a nation of 60.6 million people from various racial, cultural and religious spheres. These different spheres have different perspectives towards domestic violence. In the U.K, equality and diversity are terms used to define the rights of humans in the society and therefore domestic violence is considered to go against the rights of humans in society.  Every individual is given an opportunity to realize their potential without facing injustices such as domestic violence. Public authorities in the UK are mandated to carry out activities devoid of inequality such as domestic violence. Organizations are also expected to report any cases of suspected domestic violence in their workplaces as they go about their legal duties. Under the legislation, various legal entries exist to discourage domestic violence.

Institutional Framework for Domestic Violence Monitoring and Management in the UK

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is a commission in the United Kingdom which formed under the 2006 Equality Act  in October 2007. Its main objectives are to promote equality, mitigate any forms of discrimination and promote healthy relationships among its citizens. Domestic violence is an issue that goes against all these objectives. This commission being charged with the responsibility of challenging injustice and protecting the rights of humans, has been very successful in its fight against domestic violence which is done by encouraging the society to comply with the Human Rights Act and encouraging other aspects of equality, such as religion, age, sexual preference and cultural beliefs (Saraga, 2008).

It has managed to bring in three organizations into the fight against domestic violence in the United Kingdom, such as the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). The EHRC which responsible for equality and human rights in England, Wales and Scotland has played a big role in addressing issues to do with domestic violence in these areas, while the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland carries out similar functions for Northern Ireland. The EHRC has its offices based in London, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2008). The Office of Government Equality sponsors this commission, though it is not a departmental body of the UK government.

The Equality Act is essential in streamlining and simplifying the equality legislation that defines domestic violence. Individuals are better able to gain protection from any form domestic violence. It also makes it easier for all individuals to fully understand the responsibilities they should take in the fight against domestic violence. It also sets a pathway for public service providers to treat cases of domestic violence.

In accordance with the commission’s statutory powers, Codes of Practice were introduced. The objective of the Codes of Practice is to present a comprehensive account of the provisions found in the Equality Act to enable individuals apply those concepts in their day-to-day lives in reducing he incidences of domestic violence. The Codes also assist the judiciary system in fully understanding the law and apply it appropriately in courts and tribunals in cases involving domestic violence. The Codes of Practice apply to England, Wales and Scotland. The Codes provide a precise and clear explanation of what is required by the legislation in cases involving domestic violence. They describe case laws and give technical explanations of the implications of each clause. The Codes were enacted on 6 April 2011.

Regulatory Principles, Policies and Objectives of Dealing with Domestic Violence

This commission exercises a regulatory approach, which seeks to transform a society’s behavior and put an end to domestic violence, which bring about inequality. The commission does this by helping people all over the UK to comply with the legislation that has been put in place to discourage domestic violence. This requires the commission to formally enforce the actions using the powers given to them by the Act. Regulation does not necessarily refer to legally enforcing the actions. It may also include giving advice, creating awareness, transferring knowledge and expertise and providing due support to organizations as they strive to prevent domestic violence.

In so doing, the commission uses a variety of policies. They select the policies, which work best in each scenario to produce the best outcomes in cases involving domestic violence. Often, their actions are in the best interest of the public. The regulatory commission is thus bound by the Hampton Code of Practice for Regulators. This code gives five principles of proper regulation, such as: Proportionality, Accountability, Consistency, Transparency and Targeting

The commission works under certain principles. These principles are as follows:

  • Since the commission’s main aim is to bring the society to understand the challenges faced in curbing domestic violence, the community must strive to fully understand the challenges that the country may face in discouraging domestic violence.
  • The commission also observes transparency in cases involving domestic violence. All stakeholders are informed of the commission’s plans and priorities annually.
  • The commission is equipped with the appropriate tools to help individuals comply with the law.  The tools involve powers of enforcement and litigation in cases involving domestic violence. The commission uses these tools decisively and effectively as is required.
  • The commission also gives evidence and explanation as to the taken course of actionin cases involving domestic violence. The actions are required to be transparent, accountable and consistent.
  • The commission also seeks to observe economic efficiency and effectiveness in cases involving domestic violence. In so doing, they direct their resources to where they are most likely to achieve the desired outcomes in the most desirable way.

The commission also partners with other organizations when carrying out their regulatory activities. However, caution is taken not to compromise their own independence in so doing.

The objectives of the regulatory commission are as follows:

  • To develop a society that fully understands the need stop domestic violence
  • To improve the compliance of equality and human rights within families
  • To promote an understanding of equality in private and public sectors.
  • To offer protection from domestic violence to individuals within the society.

Enforcement

The commission is vested with the powers of enforcement under the 2006 Equality Act. Though the commission has been successful in reducing incidences of domestic violence, some circumstances have forced them to use their enforcement powers to achieve better results.

The commission is charged with the power to conduct inquiries where it suspects that the case involves domestic violence. To conduct this inquiry, the commission does not require evidence of the need to do so. The inquiries are conducted as per sections of the Act relating to diversity, equality and human rights.

The Commission also has the power to conduct assessments to analyze whether individuals are complying with the laws and regulations that have been set aside. These assessments are used to gather evidence as to whether enforcement actions need to be taken with respect to the individuals.

The commission is also authorized to intervene in some family matters that are suspected to involve domestic violence. In determining cases that require intervention by the commission, a tactical approach is used. The commission intervenes only in cases where it can use its proficiency to dispute or shed light on a relevant aspect of law. These cases should also touch on grave matters (Bowlin, 2008).

The commission may also enter into agreements with individuals who have failed to comply with the law. A plan of action will need to be put in place in that order. An investigation is not required for an agreement to be entered into. Agreements are often entered into to substitute actions of enforcement. If the other party agrees not to commit acts that are considered domestic violence, the Commission may in such cases suspend investigation, as long as the other party undertakes the actions which have been specified (Council of Europe, 2009).

Upon agreement and implementation of a plan of action, the Commission will closely monitor the individual accused of domestic violence to ensure that it is complying with the law. The individual will also be mandated to present a regular report on its progress. Failure to comply with the agreement will give the Commission the power to take the matter to court.

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A criminal justice system is a system, which represents the enforcement of a criminal procedure, including the legal measures to be taken pertaining to a crime. It seeks to ensure that a proper legal system has been implemented.

Looking at the issue of domestic violence this kind of system is intended to control, reduce and mitigate various forms of domestic violence. This system serves to protect humans from any harm committed by such offenders. For this reason, governments implement laws to prohibit such conducts and protect its citizens.

In the UK, the criminal justice system’s main objective is to minimize domestic violence by ensuring justice in cases where domestic violence has been committed, as well as to gain confidence from the public by ensuring that the system in use is fair and will benefit the law-abiding citizenry.

To gain public confidence, the system ought to discourage domestic violence and observe equality. These principles are relevant in a democratic system.

Criminal justice practitioners, such as judges, lawyers and prosecutors, are charged with the role of protecting their citizens against domestic violence. Their duty is to ensure that the present laws and regulations, which prohibit domestic violence, are adhered to and put into practice. In some nations, the laws lack adequate enforcement, and as such, criminal justice practitioners are expected to correct the situation. This brings to light the fact that these practitioners face various challenges in championing issues to do with domestic violence in the modern society (Foster, 1998).

The following may be some of the barriers in dealing with Domestic Violence:

Community Support

For an individual to successfully achieve its efforts on fight against domestic violence, it requires the full support of the immediate family members, friends and neighbors. Without their involvement and support, prevention of domestic violence efforts will lack a strong foundation and may even fail to bear fruit.

Staffing

Attempting to enforce prevention of domestic violence efforts in a community that lacks adequate and qualified staff in these institutions for dealing with this issue is close to impossible. Sufficient staffing is required for these efforts to be successful.

Diverse Cultures

In a society with an exceedingly great diversity of people, that is, in terms of cultural backgrounds makes dealing with domestic violence harder. Involving each and every individual in the prevention of domestic violence efforts may prove to be difficult.

Psychiatric Help

In trying to deal with domestic violence, a woman may seek help from a psychiatrist. Psychiatrist are of great importance in determining whether it is an issue of domestic violence or not however they cannot disclose what their clients tell them without their consent. A suitable psychiatrist is the one whose style is in line with that of the law. A psychiatrist who lacks appropriate skills will not be effective. This will result in a failure to achieve desired objectives.

Diversity resistance

Some members of the community may offer resistance to the efforts to promote domestic violence prevention as they would see this as an infringement of their right to privacy. They may feel that their powers and privileges are threatened, thus causing them to be opposed to such policies.

Lack of community involvement

Due to most individuals being busy with work and other activities, they have no time to implement these policies that have been set to prevent domestic violence. As a result, most individuals may not have enough time to focus on domestic violence issues making implementation of prevention of domestic violence efforts impossible.

Community background

Communities with a history of domestic violence may not take the issue seriously and hence will see it as a waste of time. They will thus fail to implement policies that work to prevent domestic violence in the society.

Priority Constraint

In some communities facing bigger problems, such as discrimination and gang violence, domestic violence may not be a priority to the community during that period. The participants may not see the relevance of domestic violence as an issue when facing financial problems

Oppression

Domestic violence may be seen as promoting oppression if it focuses on identifying the issues faced by a specific culture. This may promote more division than social cohesion.

Language barrier

In communities where members speak different languages, communication may be difficult. This may bring about misunderstanding, thus making prevention of domestic violence even harder to achieve.

Community Involvement in Promoting Policies against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Training

Domestic Violence training involves training participants in order to promote awareness and expertise about the various Domestic Violence issues that face a society. Training of this kind is done in the belief that individuals in the community will be protected against Domestic Violence and also from the violations of civil rights. Domestic Violence training has raised many controversies in the society. The supporters of this act believe that it embraces the fight against Domestic Violence, recognizes the abilities of each individual and enables the organization to tap into the multiple skills that various individuals in preventing Domestic Violence. Those who are opposed to it are of the view that it seeks to further discrimination by infringing on the right to privacy of certain individuals.  According to the opponents of this practice, the training only creates an environment where people dwell on the disadvantages of other cultures and ultimately the inferiority of certain cultures as compared to others.

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT)

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust was a programme established with the aim of promoting social justice and equality which is infringed by domestic violence. The organization is based in the United Kingdom. The programme mainly covers areas related to power, peace and racial justice. In British communities, it aims to tackle injustices to do with skin color and diverse cultures. It protects the rights of asylum-seekers, minority community and migrants. The JRCT is also aimed at giving power to minority communities by involving them in decision-making and policy practices (Equality Act 2010). JRCT believes that for poverty and inequality to be eradicated, measures have to be taken targeting the root cause of these problems. Policies alone are not enough to bring about change. Doing this will promote a peaceful world.

Domestic Violence Monitoring

The community needs to monitor the progress of the policies set to prevent Domestic Violence, to know whether the policies that have been put in place have been successful. This can only be done by keeping track of any complaints of harassment and whether or not they have been resolved. A community should be able to give an account of the outcome of the investigation carried out. This information is then used for evaluating the effectiveness of the policies and procedures governing the community after which recommendations should be made in relation to the results. It is the duty of the people spearheading these policies to ensure that the community is completely devoid of all forms of domestic violence.

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