Action on family violence coincides with glimmer of hope in Syria

EDITORIAL

There was hopeful news on two hellish battlefronts yesterday.

In war-torn Syria, for the first day in five years no deaths were reported as the start of a week-long ceasefire brought a nervous calm. Aid agencies remained on standby this morning, ready to deliver assistance to hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians — but awaiting security guarantees.

In New Zealand, where so many homes host ongoing domestic battles, the Government announced an overhaul of family violence laws that has been two years in the making. The Prime Minister front-footed it with a speech directed at the perpetrators of violence and men who control and intimidate their partners, urging them to own the problem and to ask for help.

Frontline agencies have given strong support to the changes, seeing that they will be able to do more for the thousands of desperate victims of violence they interact with — and that the perpetrators are guaranteed to face tougher consequences.

Women’s Refuge has called this the most significant step by the state in several decades towards tackling family violence in New Zealand, which has the worst record in the developed world.

Chief executive Ang Jury told Newshub the more than 50 law changes will help protect victims, who have often been left at the mercy of their attackers. She pointed particularly to victim safety being at the heart of bail decisions, and protection orders being much easier to apply for.

The $130 million package over four years includes 66 new police officers to help cope with associated demand. Importantly, law changes include a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and all family violence offences being flagged on the criminal records of perpetrators.

The causes of our dreadful family violence problem are complex and difficult to solve, as is the war that has destroyed Syria. Both require leadership, and that has at last been shown with the events of yesterday.

Most of the answers to family violence should lie within our own communities. More people need to step up as leaders in this battle.

There was hopeful news on two hellish battlefronts yesterday.

In war-torn Syria, for the first day in five years no deaths were reported as the start of a week-long ceasefire brought a nervous calm. Aid agencies remained on standby this morning, ready to deliver assistance to hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians — but awaiting security guarantees.

In New Zealand, where so many homes host ongoing domestic battles, the Government announced an overhaul of family violence laws that has been two years in the making. The Prime Minister front-footed it with a speech directed at the perpetrators of violence and men who control and intimidate their partners, urging them to own the problem and to ask for help.

Frontline agencies have given strong support to the changes, seeing that they will be able to do more for the thousands of desperate victims of violence they interact with — and that the perpetrators are guaranteed to face tougher consequences.

Women’s Refuge has called this the most significant step by the state in several decades towards tackling family violence in New Zealand, which has the worst record in the developed world.

Chief executive Ang Jury told Newshub the more than 50 law changes will help protect victims, who have often been left at the mercy of their attackers. She pointed particularly to victim safety being at the heart of bail decisions, and protection orders being much easier to apply for.

The $130 million package over four years includes 66 new police officers to help cope with associated demand. Importantly, law changes include a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and all family violence offences being flagged on the criminal records of perpetrators.

The causes of our dreadful family violence problem are complex and difficult to solve, as is the war that has destroyed Syria. Both require leadership, and that has at last been shown with the events of yesterday.

Most of the answers to family violence should lie within our own communities. More people need to step up as leaders in this battle.

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