The problem of domestic violence affecting families, particularly in the lower income group, and in certain, cases even in affluent societies, has reached alarming proportions. It has become necessary for the Government to legislate action, resulting in the recent passing of the Domestic Violence Act by Parliament in June 1996.

Evidence shows that a battered wife in many cases still loves her husband despite all the abuses, which she puts down to his alcoholism, gambling, womanising and constant financial problems. This is the reality of the problem of domestic violence faced by a large number of women today. Many a battered wife just endures it because she firmly believes that any retaliation on her part might end in her losing custody of her children, and her right to inherit the matrimonial home and to enjoy any form of financial security.

The public generally holds the view that domestic violence is a matter that does not warrant any outside intervention. For instance, neighbours will quickly come to a woman's aid if they hear her scream that she is being burgled, but when she screams from her husband's constant battery, others are reluctant to intervene as they consider it a personal family matter. Until very recently this view was also held by the police. Under the Domestic Violence Act however, police duties now include escorting the abused spouse home to collect her belongings, if necessary. What abused wives ask for is protection under the law, and not so much that their husbands be punished.

The Act gives protection to the abused spouse without breaking up the family. Under the Act one would be able to get a court order barring the abusive spouse from the matrimonial home, providing maintenance to the abused spouse and children as well as giving her custody of the children. The Act makes domestic violence a punishable offence.