Bill tackles family violence

A bill submitted to Parliament yesterday proposes the toughest set of measures ever seen in Greece against domestic violence and asks for the first time that smacking children be outlawed and that the use of violence by one partner against another be grounds for divorce. «The purpose of the bill is to protect relationships based on individual dignity, self-determination and self-respect within Greek families and therefore Greek society,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras, who presented the draft law to the Inner Cabinet before it was submitted to Parliament. The draft law bans adults from using violence against minors and people deemed to be defenseless, such as the disabled or the elderly. Mental abuse is also outlawed, according to the bill. If passed into law, the new legislation will also make it illegal for one partner to force the other into having sex, as this will be deemed a form of domestic violence. Parents will no longer be allowed to use violence to discipline or subdue their children. If someone is found guilty of being violent to a family member, they will be jailed for one year. If that person causes their victim serious bodily harm, they will face two years in prison. If a parent is found guilty of causing a grave injury to their child, he or she can be jailed for up to 10 years. All the measures in the bill are applicable to both married couples and unmarried couples who live together. Unmarried couples have so far been treated differently under the law. The draft law also allows courts to intervene in cases where there is minor violence between a couple, which is considered a misdemeanor. The bill allows prosecutors to instigate efforts for the couple to reconcile with the help of experts. According to the Interior Ministry, which has studied the levels of domestic violence in Greek families, almost 90 percent of those on the receiving end are women or children. A third of abused women held themselves responsible for their husbands’ violent attacks.

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