More of the reported family abuse cases in 2020 are driven by the impacts, especially economic impacts of the COVId-19 pandemic, reported Vice President and Minister of Justice J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior at yesterday’s 2021 Economic Symposium.
The number of reported domestic abuse cases and Family Protection Act violations in 2020 remain at the same level as 2019 cases but most of the driving causes are related to financial pressures brought about by the economic fallout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most typical cases involve a demand for money to meet customary financial obligations where men are expected to provide money to support spouse customary obligations. These pressures lead to arguments and fights resulting in incidents and requests for restraining orders from the court,” expressed Vice President/Minister Senior.
Women still represent a higher percentage of people seeking restraining orders. In 2020, they represent 58% of the total number of restraining order requests. 27% were filed by males and 15% by joint filing. Women have consistently represented the highest percentage of those filing for restraining orders as far back as 2013 before the enactment of the Family Protection Act.
According to the Economic -Brief for Palau FY 2020-21, Palau’s economy was projected to drop by 25% with the private sector bearing the brunt, falling by 38%. This resulted in loss of jobs and/or reduction of hours for the private sector, at least for the first 6 months before the CARES Act and the CROSS Act were implemented to help subsidize lost wages in the private sector.
Family Protection Act, enacted into law in 2014, expanded the definition of a family member, provided legal authorities to swiftly address family protection and safety issues, and made reporting abuses to authorities easier and safer for the victims.