Sri Lanka set to introduce New Bill combatting Domestic Violence

Geetha Kumarasinghe

Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers has given approval for amending the existing Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and presenting a new bill to Parliament in this regard.

This was revealed by the State Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Geetha Kumarasinghe, during a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on Tuesday (April 02), focusing on the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country.’

Additionally, the State Minister highlighted that plans are in progress to establish the National Commission for Women, following the introduction of the already gazetted Bill on Women’s Empowerment.”

Expressing her views further, Women and Children’s Affairs State Minister said:

The Cabinet approved the Women’s Empowerment Bill on April 3, 2024. Subsequently, the draft bill was officially published in the gazette on July 3, 2024. It is scheduled to be presented in Parliament soon. The Act includes provisions regarding the establishment of the National Commission for Women.

The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus convened a discussion in Parliament on March 20, 2024, regarding the bill for women’s empowerment. Various stakeholders, such as the President’s Office, the Attorney General’s Department, and the Legal Draftsman’s Department, actively participated in the discussion.

The observations made by the World Bank regarding the Bill on Women’s Empowerment were also taken into consideration. The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus has decided to review the observations within one week. If there are any additional amendments deemed necessary, the Bill will be re-published in the gazette and presented to Parliament.

Additionally, several crucial clauses were added, such as the provision for a close associate to file a case on behalf of women facing domestic violence. The Cabinet of Ministers has also given the approval to amend the existing Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and present it to Parliament as a new Act.

Temporary detention centres for abused women have been established in Gampaha, Ratnapura, Colombo, Matara, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Monaragala, and Nuwara Eliya districts.

In addition, the Bill on Gender Equality has received the Cabinet approval and will now be forwarded to the government printing press for gazetting. Moreover, the Cabinet has also given approval to the national guidelines for the management of women’s care homes dedicated to victims of sexual and gender-based violence.