What Is Personal Protection Order?
What to do when you’re a victim of domestic violence? Can you really apply for a PPO? Then what is a DEO?
Personal Protection Order is an order from court to stop threats or violence against an individual. Personal Protection Order or known as PPO is to help in protecting you from someone who is seen as a threat or impose violence to you or your children and you feel that safety is at risk, you can get a PPO.
From the Airwaves to the Web, here we share the excerpt of a radio interview of Mr Mohammad Rizuan, a Syariah lawyer in Singapore by 93.8 FM on 27 September 2018. He is sharing with us on domestic violence and how to get a Personal Protection Order.
93.8 FM – Live in the studio we have now Mohammad Rizuan. Welcome Rizuan.
Rizuan– Thank You.
What Is Domestic Violence?
93.8 FM – Great to have you here. Tonight we’re talking about domestic violence, how to get a Personal Protection Order here in Singapore. Before we sort of go into the evidence of things like that, perhaps you can describe what a domestic violence is.
Rizuan– Alright. Domestic violence is generally the layman’s term. As per the Women’s Charter, we call it family violence and family violence is defined as;
- wilfully or knowingly placing or attempting to place a family member in fear or hurt,
- causing hurt to a family member by such an act which is known or ought to have known which would result in hurt,
- wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his or her will and/or;
- causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that is likely to cause (hurt).
Domestic Violence By A Family Member
So if we look at the definition as per Section 64 of the Women’s Charter, it covers a broad range. I also think that it’s important for us to know what is a family member? Who is a family member?
93.8 FM– So what constitutes a family member in this case?
Rizuan– A spouse, former spouse, child, adopted child, step-child, father, mother, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, etc. the definition is broad.
93.8 FM– So it’s extended family as well? (Rizuan: Yes) With your definition there, the official definition – with the intent to cause hurt, in many cases though I believe domestic violence happens at the heat of an argument with no rational thinking, how does that apply to something like that?
How Can Personal Protection Order (PPO) Be Granted?
Rizuan– That is a very good question because many a times it’s a one-off situation, so the Courts had come up with the system before they make an Order. So there are 2 limbs to it;
- Did family violence occur ie; was it committed?
- Is it necessary to make an Order? (93.8 FM– OK)
Rizuan– Because if the second limb did not exist, anyone who has been hurt whether it’s a slap or a push or a shove can just come to the Courts and obtain a PPO then it would not be very beneficial as a matter of public policy.
So the Courts have come up with the system that; first, we look at “was family violence commited” and the PPO style, the procedure is that of a trial, is not as strict as a civil trial or perhaps a criminal trial, it’s a bit more – I wouldn’t call it relaxed – I would say perhaps less strenuous on the people.
93.8 FM– To show the reason why a person or Protection Order has to be granted?
How To Apply For A Personal Protection Order (PPO)?
In order for the Personal Protection Order to be granted, some form of proof will be required. Police reports or any medical reports should be obtained and kept by the individual making the application for each and every time a scenario that cause them harm, occurs. And yes, Personal Protection Order applies to both men and women.
Rizuan– You have to go to Court and then you have to file your papers. If those who are represented by lawyers, they normally file affidavits. For those who are not represented by lawyers normally just file a bundle of documents; perhaps a police reports, medical reports.
And they say “Look, these happened” “I perhaps have Whatsapp messages to show”, audio recordings, perhaps a witness or a child can be interviewed on camera before the Judge or perhaps any witness, if they have.
Now the “weight” of the witness will always matter; if it’s your mother or your brother or your sister or your friend then the weight accorded to his testimony may not weigh so heavy (compared to an independent witness) but at the end of the day it depends on the balance of probabilities; whose case is more likely to be true.
Does Domestic Violence Covers Only Physical Violence?
93.8 FM– So Rizuan, when you say in the beginning when you were describing what domestic violence is and you were saying “that causes hurt”; and that is always a physical sense or we’re talking about “verbal hurt”, “verbal abuse” does that come into it?
Rizuan– Yes, family violence is very broad; emotional abuse, spewing of vulgarities, continual harassment. In fact I’d like to focus a little bit on continual harassment because many people say;
“I feel harassed”, “He walked into my door yesterday, I feel harassed”,
“He looked at me from the window, I feel harassed” or
“He sent me 4 messages saying I love you please come back to me and I feel harassed”.
Protection Order For Harassment In Singapore
The Courts have not given such a wide definition of continual harassment, a text-book definition of continual harassment would mean this; as per the case of Yew Tock Him;
A cause of conduct by a person whether by words or action directly or through third party sufficiently, repetitive in nature as would cause and which he ought reasonably to know would cause worry, emotional distress of annoyance to another person.
Rizuan– Perhaps I can give an example, one example where something was not or did not amount to continual harassment was where the child’s parents bad-mouth each other, when they were talking to the child. This was in the context of an application of a PPO for a child.
Examples Of Family Violence
So in relation to other aspects of family violence where there perhaps was some form of physical aspect, some examples where the Courts have found that family violence did in fact take place was when a husband prevented his wife from leaving the home by pushing her and holding on to the gate, that is one (example).
Another incident was when a wife repeatedly threatened to kill her husband or when a father-in-law restraint his daughter-in-law by pushing her down into a toilet bowl.
It’s quite subjective because every family has a unique state of affairs. There is no mathematical formula in order to say whether will you be granted a PPO or not. I have done a number of cases that I thought the Order would be given, but it wasn’t. And cases where I thought an Order should not be given, but it was given.
So it’s quite subjective, it also depends on how convincing your testimony is when you speak.
What You Can Do When The Threat Or Family Violence Continues
93.8 FM– So in a case where a person file for a PPO and the Court doesn’t grant it, what happens to that person if the threat or the violence, as far as the person is concerned – continues?
Rizuan– Ok one thing the person can do immediately is to actually file an appeal against the decision. Secondly, if the violence gets worse, try to get some form of evidence and then make a police report, or some practical measures.
Law is not always some text-book approach to things. A practical measures would mean – if you’re really in fear, leave the house, go somewhere else.
Why Personal Protection Order May Not Be Granted
93.8 FM– So the PPO application then, in the way you’re explaining it if it’s not granted is it because of a lack of evidence?
Rizuan– I would say it’s a combination of several factors, because you see, to have an Order you must be able to convince the Court on the balance of probability that indeed the family violence did occur or was committed.
There are many reasons as to why a certain application may not be granted. It’s the same for criminal cases or civil cases. How you speak when you’re cross-examine, the strength of your documents, corroborative evidence and perhaps how good your lawyer is.
What If There Is No Family Violence?
93.8 FM– As you mentioned right, the act of violence has to happen, but what if there is a threat of this violence that will happen? As far as the person is concern and there’s a threat sometime in the future, can the person apply for a PPO?
Rizuan– Yes correct. As per the Charter; wilfully or knowingly placing or attempting to place a family member in fear of hurt. So if you keep saying, “I’m gonna slap you”, “I’m gonna hurt you”, “I’m gonna kill you”, the Courts will take that into consideration.
93.8 FM– We’re talking to Mohammad Rizuan and we’re talking about domestic violence and how to get Personal Protection Order. Of course you need to know your rights and we will continue the discussion after the break.
-Continue- So Rizuan, we’ve spoken about what evidence must be presented in Court and the occurrence of the continuous harassment as well. But what happens when the Domestic Exclusion Order (D.E.O.) or PPO has been violated by the person?
What Is Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO)?
Rizuan– First and foremost a D.E.O is a Domestic Exclusion Order, it’s different from PPO and it’s normally granted when someone has a PPO. It’s not easy to obtain a DEO because you’re practically kicking someone out of the house.
So cases where I have done, the Court have limited the person to a certain areas of the house. For example you can’t enter the masterbed room or you can’t enter the children’s room. But not the kitchen as you need to prepare your food.
Normally, for cases of DEO and PPO they are heard together by the Courts. For example for the first half of the day we hear for PPO and the second half we will hear about the DEO (court hearing). So if an Order is made, and someone has breaches the Order then the person contravening the Order shall be guilty of an offence. It’s a seizable offence under the CPC, the Criminal Procedure Code.
Examples Of Breach Of PPO (Personal Protection Order)
Some examples of breaches include (when the person says) ‘I’m going to break your face”. Saying that can be a breach of the PPO. Or “I will do something to you if you don’t come back home”. These are reported cases.
On conviction a person may be liable to a Fine or to Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. For second and subsequent conviction – to a Fine not exceeding $5000 or to imprisonment term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
It depends on the severity of the breach (of Order).
93.8 FM– So for those who are listening to us, DEO is the Domestic Exclusion Order and of course PPO is Personal Protection Order.
We appreciate you coming in and sharing with us on domestic violence and how to get a Personal Protection Order.
We’ve been speaking with Mohammad Rizuan.
Do I Need A Divorce Lawyer?
We (Syariah Lawyers) are here to assist those whom wish to divorce or are in the midst of divorce proceedings. If you have not made up your mind, please proceed to a counsellor who will be able to advise you better.
Also if you wish to save your marriage, you may wish to proceed to a counsellor or Ustaz/Ustazah. Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory but it is definitely helpful especially when there is a lot at stake.
As lawyers, our professional duty is to represent our clients through the divorce proceedings and we will not advise on whether it is better for you to divorce or not. That is a decision you will have to make on your own.