23 April, 2020

Violence amidst partners, spouses, or coming from either parents towards their children, or children towards elderly or disabled parents of theirs, is not only morally repulsive and blamable, but also legally forbidden. What does that include? The existence of a complete legal protection framework for victims of domestic violence, to which later can resort in order to protect themselves.

Law 3500/2006 (as amended by Law 4531/2018) elevated the unlawful act of domestic violence to be a crime per se, further stipulating that “violence of any kind between family members is prohibited”. Such proclamation means that, as domestic violence is also perceived the mental, emotional, verbal, or sexual violence, upon the condition that it is by facts established, without the need of violence having occurred as concurring offence.

Domestic violence is defined as commission of a criminal offence, against a family member. Most particularly, physical injury or damage to a family member’s health (the provisions of the Penal Code supplementing). Protected persons are set to be, a family or a community consisting of spouses or persons linked to a civil partnership or parents and relatives of first and second degree, by blood or by affinity, and their adopted children. In addition, the provisions on domestic violence apply to permanent partners and their children, common to the both or to one of the partners, to ex-spouses, to the parties of a civil partnership that has been resolved, and to former permanent partners.’

If a family member, as defined above, suffers domestic violence, he/she/it can resort to the police, informing competent authorities, who are required to move of their own motion (ex proprio motu), without the victim having to file a complaint or a law suit.

Victims of domestic violence are also given the opportunity to take action before the civil courts, requesting an injunction to temporarily regulate the situation, such as restrictive measures and ban the offender from approaching them. Let us not forget that domestic violence is an interference with the personality of the person affected.

The scope of laws and rules to protect victims of domestic violence goes beyond the limits of the state and extents all the way to international and European conventions, which stress to the States their obligation to protect these people. A recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR of 9.7.2019, Volodina v. Russia, Appeal 41261/17, source: condemned Russia for failing to protect a female national who was subjected to increased physical and mental violence by her partner, with incidents of kidnapping, death threats, etc., after accepting that the country did not have an effective legal system for domestic violence, whilst, furthermore, the Russian authorities did not investigate the incidents as per the subject’s complaint.

Therefore, and in the light of the new era in which the covid-19 pandemic makes the situation of the victims of domestic violence even harder, or, may create new victims, it is everyone’s responsibility to inform the relevant police authorities if aware of any incident of domestic violence. A call to Direct Action (even anonymous) can protect a fellow man from mental or physical abuse and limit the alarmingly growing phenomenon of domestic violence, which may be next door and not far away as we believe.

We quote Mr. Sotiris Tsiodras from his daily briefing to the public informing on developments of the coronavirus : “it is far better to walk outside in an attempt to soothe unacceptable anger and feelings of violence, at the risk of being fined, than to engage ourselves in domestic violence. Protect our own. We cannot have such phenomena in Greece of the year 2020.”

The actions of the Greek authorities is swift, with the promotion via television, radio and through means of other messaging on how to protect victims of domestic violence, whereas the actions of competent state authorities specializing on the matter, set by state to resolve same situations, is also direct and to the point.