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Strangling, suffocating and coerced marriage new offences as Government targets domestic violence

Strangling and suffocating, assault on family members and being forced into marriage will become new offences next week, as the Government rolls out 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. 

Justice (Sexual and Domestic Violence) Under-Secretary Jan Logie yesterday praised previous work by National's Amy Adams when speaking of the changes, calling them "one of the greatest opportunities" to target well-being in New Zealand. 

On the new strangulation or suffocation offence, Ms Logie said it intended "to ensure that everyone knows how serious this is". 

It was said to be "a significant risk factor to future violence and lethality" and perpetrators could now face up to seven years prison. 

The assault on a person in a family relationship offence holds a maximum imprisonment of two years. 

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 difference 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. 

Young woman is sitting hunched at a table at home, the focus is on a man's fist in the foregound of the image
File picture. Source: istock.com