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As of Thursday the 26th of July 2018, members of the New Zealand parliament moved to pass the legislation, which grants victims of domestic violence up to 10 days of paid leave. This legislation allows these victims the space to leave their partners, find alternative housing and set themselves up in good stead to protect themselves and their children, supposing they have, without losing their jobs and will not detract from the regular paid leave offered to citizens. This measure will come into effect next April and will make New Zealand the second country after the Philippines to pass such legislation.
The bill was initially recommended by Jan Logie in 2016 who is a part of the left wing Green party group. Her proposal generated from the shockingly high statistics in which concerns were raised that domestic violence had become entrenched into the culture of the country with as many as 30% of woman falling victim. It is estimated that every 4 minutes police are summoned to tend to family related violence incidents. Furthermore, research from the company “Women’s Refuge “ found that 60% of women had full employment prior to the start of their abusive relationship yet only half managed to maintain employment throughout. Many who initially remained employed, admitted to having to leave due to harassment and the emotional strain of tending to physical and mental symptoms, which cause extended periods of absence from work.
This law, which includes the ability for victims to request a more flexible work arrangement to escape the possibility of their partners locating their whereabouts and offers these victims protection from discrimination in the workplace, will indeed be useful in granting victims the space to leave their partners and maintain their financial independence to disqualify the need for these victims to return to their partners as well as to tend to their mental and physical health. In theory it seems to be a forward step, but it is a move that will cost the government upwards from 7 billion dollars a year and the question is whether or not it will only add to the list of attempts at salvaging the national care for abuse victims or if it truly will generate enough of a change to simply create a path of freedom in the workplace? It seems counterproductive to reiterate the importance of leaving an abusive partner and breaking the cycle of abuse but not granting these victims the ability to do so.
The true success of passing a law such as this extends beyond only breaking the entrenched abuse within the society, is its move away from complete reliance on the police forces to intervene and instead the move to include a whole society response starting with the common thread between victims: their jobs. This move means that now victims can have a more subtle option of executing their move away from their partner and will offer another level of protection for these victims beyond what the police are capable of doing. Furthermore, it is no false accusation that both cultural and social norms, namely the acceptance of abuse, can encourage further violence and thus by including the entire society in the approach to solving the problem, offer more opportunity to solving it.
New Zealand is no stranger to forward thinking politics and thus their relatively revolutionary legislation introduction does not come as a surprise. Instead it is one of the moves that are an aim at New Zealand’s quest to change their political system to equally consider the wellbeing of its citizens’ as it does its economics. The political systems ability to recognize that both the economic and countries success is directly linked to the preservation of the safety of the citizens is what defines prime examples of leaders we are evidently more desperately in need of in today’s society.
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