Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill which was approved by the Assembly to proceed to Committee Stage.
The Foyle MLA said:
“This marks an important milestone in the fight against domestic abuse. The protections provided for in this legislation are urgent and vitally important to protect victims of domestic abuse.
“This Bill will make coercive control a criminal offence. This covers behaviour that is abusive because it is controlling or coercive or amounts to psychological, emotional or financial abuse, as well as behaviour which is physically violent, threatening or intimidating.
“There is potential, however, to strengthen this bill further by providing for a statutory entitlement to paid leave for domestic abuse victims as has been proposed by our party colleagues in the south, and by introducing Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Notices, which it would be a criminal offence to breach.
“Sinn Féin will work with the justice minister and our colleagues in the Assembly and on the justice committee to explore how these provisions could be introduced in an effective and timely fashion.
“The progression of this bill towards the next stage, however, is a positive and welcome step and one which is particularly significant during the current COVID-19 crisis, where figures show domestic abuse cases are on the rise.
“It is important that we as a society understand domestic abuse as a community problem, with a significant impact on the wider community. This is a crime like no other and it is important that we tackle this as a community. This involves early intervention and prevention by educating ourselves and our young people on healthy relationships.”