Your minor child can obtain a protection order against you, warns advocate

Senior State Advocate warns parents of provisions in the Domestic Violence Amendment Act.

Fighting parents be warned, your minor child can obtain a Protection Order against you for exposing them to domestic violence.

These are some of the new provisions in the Domestic Violence Amendment Act that Salome Scheepers, Senior State Advocate at the Sexual Offence and Community Affairs Unit (#SOCA) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), explained to members of the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA).

Scheepers is the portfolio manager for domestic violence and presented a session of the Union’s Webinar Series to educate and raise awareness during National Child Protection Week (until June 5).

According to Scheepers, domestic violence and gender-based violence are a plague of the modern world.

“The Amendment Act makes it an offence for children to witness or listen to domestic violence. Research has shown there are lasting effects to the exposure or witnessing of domestic violence. Girls become victims, while boys become the perpetrators.”

Scheepers referred to a Constitutional Court judgement that dealt with domestic violence.

“All crimes have harsh effects on society. What distinguishes domestic violence is its hidden, repetitive character and its immeasurable ripple effects on our society and family life. It cuts across class, race, culture and geography, and all the more pernicious because it is so often concealed and so frequently goes unpunished the court ruled.”

According to Scheepers, the description of domestic violence in the Amendment Act is quite right.

“It allows for a child under 18 to apply for a Protection Order without the consent or assistance of an adult. It places a legal obligation on any person who is aware that a child is exposed to domestic violence, to apply for a Protection Order on behalf of the child, with the consent of the child.”

She acknowledged that children can also be the perpetrators of domestic violence towards adults, hence education is key.

Scheepers said SOCA wants to raise as much awareness as possible about all gender-based violence-related issues.

“Awareness is needed to ensure that victims can overcome their fears of the stigma and embarrassment of domestic violence and to report the first time there is an incident. There is help and together we can break the cycle of abuse and prevent femicide.”

She said the NPA oversees 64 Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) nationwide and these centres are one-stop facilities aimed at reducing secondary victimisation and building a case ready for successful prosecution.

“Victims have access to officials of the Department of Health, Social Development, South African Police Services and the NPA, free of charge. Most of these centres are open 24/7.”

MISA’s CEO of operations Martlé Keyter added the Union decided to support SOCA’s projects throughout 2024 as part of its social responsibility to adhere to the call of National Child Protection Week.

“MISA’s Webinar Series emanates from the theme Every Conversation Matters. I believe child protection is a conversation every South African should have 365 days a year and not only for one week,” said Keyter.

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