KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat today passed the amendment to the Domestic Violence bill 2017.
Under the amendment, victims of domestic abuse will have immediate and comprehensive protection through an emergency protection order (EPO).
The bill was passed after two days of debate by 22 MPs.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said under the EPO, victims no longer have to wait for the courts to grant protection from abusers.
At present, many cases take place during weekends and the victims are unable to obtain a protection order (PO) or an interim protection order (IPO) from the court immediately.
With the EPO, all the victim has to do is contact the nearest Welfare Department office.
The officer will assess the situation and issue an EPO accordingly, she said.
The EPO would be effective for one week, during which time the victim can go to court to get a PO or an IPO that will be served on the victim and the abuser in the presence of a police officer.
Rohani said failing to follow the EPO would result in a fine not exceeding RM4,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year.
The newly-passed amendment strengthens the orders that can be made under an IPO and clarifies the circumstances under which an IPO ceases to have effect.
Several MPs also asked to consider including unmarried couples as eligible for protection orders under the Act.
Rohani replied the provisions of the law only extended to “de facto couples” who had a traditional form of marriage without registering it.
“We cannot expand the definition very far as it will defeat the purpose of the Act.
“However, unmarried couples can always seek redress under existing laws, such as the Penal Code,” she said.
On why stalking was not considered an act of domestic violence, Rohani said at the moment, even other laws did not specifically state it as a criminal act.
“Stalking as a crime should be included in the Penal Code first before it can be included in the amendment,” she said.