Home Legislators Domestic violence in the Macao SAR

Domestic violence in the Macao SAR

José Pereira Coutinho*José Pereira Coutinho

The “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”, has been celebrated since 1999 on November 25, a date established by UN Resolution 52/134, with the purpose of alerting to physical, psychological, sexual violence and social impact that affects women all over the world, and raise awareness in society so that there are fewer and fewer cases of domestic violence.

The drama of violence against women, in addition to representing one of the most significant forms of personal, family and social disruption, is also a public health problem.

Women who have been exposed to an environment involving violence, with a high incidence in the domestic space, have changes in their physical or mental conditions, or mental disorders, with increased risks for their future development.

In the long term, the physical and psychological violence to which many women are subjected in relationships with their partners reveals suffering that often evolves into psychological trauma, depression and anxiety disorder, due to the difficulty in externalizing their problems. Regarding this matter, we recall that, in March 2019, we had already questioned, in writing, the competent authorities regarding the key issue in the legal interpretation of the provisions of Article 4 of the Law for the Prevention and Combat of Domestic Violence No. 2 /2016, of June 6, 2016, which considers domestic violence to be “any physical, psychological or sexual abuse that is committed within the scope of a family or equivalent relationship”. This, based on Opinion No. 1/V/2016, of the 1st Permanent Commission of the Legislative Assembly, of 04/21/2016, defined domestic violence as the conduct of mistreating someone, and not the conduct of assaulting someone , even though the notion of mistreating includes that of assaulting”.

Over the years, this understanding has created serious problems and discouragement in the presentation of complaints related to domestic violence, with a significant increase in recent and more serious cases having been recorded, resulting from the difficulties of the competent authorities in framing and qualifying these acts in the context of configuration of the crime of domestic violence, with obvious damage to the fundamental right of women to protection against domestic and family violence.

The crime of domestic violence has to be inserted in a context that goes beyond the simple interpretation of legal norms, because what is at stake is the human dignity of the victim, his physical and mental health, his freedom of determination, which, frequently, they are severely violated, repeatedly or not, and not just by offenses, threats or injuries, but essentially through a psychological environment of fear, anguish, restlessness, insecurity, fragility and humiliation.

In addition to the necessary adjustments to the law, in the context of domestic violence, it is also important to safeguard other aspects and forms of violence, based on gender, adopting an amplified conception of the definition of violence against women, such as the crime of conjugal sexual rape, which we consider that should be revised to focus on the “lack of free consent of the victim”, despite the fact that the victim is the wife of the aggressor, adapting the legislation to advances in International Criminal Law that place consent as an axiomatic factor for the configuration of sexual violation .

*Association of Civil Service Workers of Macao

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