1. How can the law protect someone from domestic violence?
Under the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Ordinance ( Cap. 189 ), an application can be made by an eligible person to the District Court or the Court of First Instance, and the court may grant an injunction which either:
- restrains the offender from using violence against the applicant or a child living with the applicant; or
- excludes the offender from the matrimonial/shared home or from a specified part of the matrimonial/shared home or from a specified area, regardless of the ownership of the property.
Where the court is satisfied that the abuser either has caused actual bodily harm to the victim or is likely to do so, a Power of Arrest may be attached to the injunction. This“Power of Arrest”enables the police to arrest the abuser where the abuser is reasonably suspected of breaching the injunction by reason of violence or by entering into or remaining in the area specified in the injunction.
The application forms for injunction orders can be obtained from a solicitor, the Legal Aid Department, or the Family Court Registry.
If you or your children or other family members are assaulted or threatened by your spouse/partner or other family members, you should report the matter to the police. For any emergency, please call 999.
For more details, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic violence and assistance > Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Violence Ordinance .
2. Is the law also protecting cohabitants or former cohabitants?
Yes. Under section 3B of the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Ordinance ( Cap. 189 ), an injunction may be obtained by a party to a cohabitation relationship who has been molested. Section 3B is not gender specific.
Apart from spouses, former spouses, cohabitants and former cohabitants, other family members listed in the Ordinance are also within the scope of injunction orders under the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Ordinance .
For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic violence and assistance > Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Violence Ordinance > B. Cohabitants or former cohabitants and C. Other family members .
3. Can a man be charged with raping his wife or cohabitant?
Yes. Marital rape (or spousal rape or partner rape) is non-consensual sexual intercourse in which the perpetrator is the victim's spouse or female partner. A wife does not, by entering into a marriage with her spouse, give an open ended commitment to sexual intercourse at all and any time with her spouse. A wife has the right to decide whether or not sexual intercourse shall occur. The husband who forces his wife to have sexual intercourse with him without her consent commits rape. The same applies to a female cohabitee.
To understand more about this issue, please see Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic violence and assistance > Domestic violence acts: Possible offences contrary to the Crimes Ordinance > B. Rape .
4. I am abused by my family member. I have alerted the police but they said that there is not enough evidence to support a prosecution. What may happen?
Police officers may serve a Domestic Violence Notice on the alleged abuser even if there is insufficient evidence to support a prosecution. This form notifies the alleged abuser of the nature of the allegations against them, names the complainant and sets out the date and place of the incident. The Notice serves as a record of the police visit and operates as a warning to the alleged abuser of the possibility of criminal charges. The reasons why there will not be a prosecution at this time must be explained by the police to the victim.
To know more about this issue, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic violence and assistance > Roles and responsibilities of police officers attending domestic violence incidents .
5. I am abused by my wife. I have alerted the police but then I do not want to give evidence in court. What can I do?
The victim of domestic violence may have called the police for immediate protection without thinking of the possible long term consequences, or the police may have been called by a neighbour who saw or heard an argument between the parties. In those situations, the victim may be reluctant to become a prosecution witness. If this is the situation, ideally the victim should tell the police about this at the scene or at least as soon as possible.
Realistically, if the victim is uncooperative, this is something for the police to consider when deciding whether or not to charge the abuser or to continue the investigation, as it may affect the sufficiency of evidence and the likelihood or otherwise of a conviction. If there is no other worthwhile evidence available, the authority may decide not to prosecute or not to continue with the prosecution.
To know more about giving evidence in court, you may visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic violence and assistance > Victims of domestic violence might be required to give evidence .