Domestic Violence (our house-style is use of the term, ‘Family Violence) is totally not acceptable in New Zealand.
But for those of us who have migrated from other countries, it is sometimes not clear as to what is and is not acceptable.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in a marriage, or cohabitation.
Many people believe that Domestic Violence refers only to physical abuse; however, this is totally incorrect.
Domestic violence in New Zealand can take several forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious or sexual abuse.
Although one in three women in New Zealand experience some form of abuse within their relationship, it is an issue that affects women alone.
Many men also suffer domestic abuse but are less likely to report it.
Children are also largely affected by domestic violence.
Often, they are not subject to physical abuse but the emotional trauma that they suffer from being in a home where domestic violence of any form is prevalent is very harmful for their well-being and development.
A low threshold
The threshold for what counts as Domestic abuse is extremely low in New Zealand and something as minor as emotionally or physically forcing your spouse to live in a particular way can constitute Domestic abuse.
New Zealand is known for freedom of speech and freedom of thought which apply equally to both men and women.
Therefore, although many of the ethnic cultures believe that men have the right to make decisions about their wives or partners, including who they meet, whether they should work, when they can go out of the house and what clothing they should wear, these are definitely not acceptable in New Zealand as control of another in a domestic setting can be seen as a form of domestic abuse.
People coming to New Zealand from a different cultural background, may find it hard to understand as to why their way of life is no longer acceptable.
But what we must always remember is that once we have decided to make this beautiful country our home, it is imperative that we abide by its rules and laws.
Domestic violence is totally unacceptable and our Family Courts ensure that people are protected from such abuse.
These Courts have the power to issue a Protection Order in favour of a person to ensure that they are not subject to domestic violence.
In many cases, domestic violence or abuse will also constitute a criminal offence, leading to prosecution and punishment.
After practising Law for 11 years, my advice to Indian Newslink readers is “familiarise yourself with what is not acceptable within a domestic relationship. If in doubt, there are many agencies that can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations better.”
If you and your partner are going through relationship problems or disagreements, I suggest to undertake joint counselling to resolve your issues.
Counsellors can also assist you in understanding unacceptable behaviour and help you to reconcile your cultural beliefs with New Zealand laws. They can provide you with guidelines to make your relationship as harmonious as possible.
Farah Khan is Partner & Notary Public Practice Manager at Khan & Associates Lawyers and Notary Public based in Papatoetoe, Auckland. She can be contacted on (09) 2789361. Facebook: Farahkhanlawyer.