Friday, July 23, 2010

Women shouldn't have to pay for protection from their abusers

There's a disturbing story on Stuff this morning about a serious decline in the number of protection orders issued by the courts to victims of domestic violence over the last decade. Permanent orders have dropped from 4322 in 1999 to 2595 in 2010, while temporary orders have fallen from 5247 to 3171 over the same period. Women's Refuge attributes this to an increase in the legal threshold applied by judges before granting an order, but they also note in passing that many women are concerned about costs and may not be able to get legal aid. Which begs the question: why the hell are they forced to pay for it in the first place?

Protecting people from violence is a core duty of the state. Protection orders are an essential mechanism for protecting women from domestic violence. This is something the government should be paying for, not the victims - just like the government pays for the police. And costwise, we're looking at peanuts - less than $10 million.

This is money the government should be spending. No-one should be denied protection or justice on financial grounds.