Personal Protection Order

Personal Protection Order Against Domestic Violence

 

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).
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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;

  1. Did family violence occur ie; was it committed?
  2. 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?

Rizuan–            Yes.

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.

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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.

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