Strangling and suffocating coming under domestic violence laws in bid to hold perpetrators accountable

New laws around family violence aim to shift the focus "from holding victims responsible for their safety" to holding the perpetrator accountable, says Justice Under-Secretary on Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Issues Jan Logie.

On TVNZ1's Q+A last night, Ms Logie explained the roll out of new offences which come into effect today. 

Strangling and suffocating, assault on family members and being forced into marriage are part of the roll out of legislation to address family violence.

The new framework also aims to make victim safety "the primary consideration in bail decisions" and to make it easier for complainants to appear via video recording while giving evidence.

She said the aim of the new offences is to "do is everything we can to prevent the violence in the first place and intervene as early as possible".

Family violence disclosures were being made to people such as doctors and counsellors or teachers, however on many occasions victims were not getting the help they needed. Ms Logie said the aim was for victims to get help and support when disclosing violence. 

The new laws also aimed to shift a focus "from holding victims responsible for their safety" to looking at the perpetrator of the violence in terms of rehabilitation and accountability. 

"We'll support you to change so you can have good relationships," Ms Logie said. 

Ms Logie said coerced marriage or civil unions are present in New Zealand, and the new offence criminalises the coercing the act "regardless if it occurs in New Zealand or overseas". 

It was different to an arranged marriage, she said, as in coerced marriage one or both parties do not consent. 

Other changes that would come into effect from July 1, 2019 would see:

- an extension of police safety orders and increased support for the bound person
- improved access to protection orders, property orders and safety programmes
- the removal of legal barriers for agency information sharing 
- protecting victims from offenders on remand. 

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    New offences include strangulation and suffocation, and coerced marriage, that come into effect today. Source: Q+A