Forum: Let's focus on addressing violence against women

We appreciate the concerns raised by Mr Oh Ee Hoe about the potential misuse of the personal protection order (PPO) regime through false reports (Have safeguards to ensure personal protection orders are not abused, March 3).

Yes, false allegations of violence have a damaging impact on the person wrongfully accused.

However, 2018 data from Parliament shows that only 6 per cent of applications for PPOs were dismissed after a Family Justice Court hearing. The figures have remained nearly constant from 2016 to 2018.

Moreover, false reports are one of many grounds on which an application can be dismissed.

Some other reasons include: a court's assessment that a PPO is not necessary for the protection of the applicant, or that the force used was in self-defence.

The overwhelming majority of these PPO applications are found to be valid. So Mr Oh's claim that false reports are increasing is unclear.

There are robust legal protections in place to take care of that.

In recent years, even as the total number of PPO applications has gone down, victims are reporting more acts of violence in their applications.

With an eye to proactively tackling the problem of family violence, the Government has announced many new initiatives, such as an inter-agency task force, which plans to launch a dedicated national hotline for victims of family violence.

Yet more work remains to be done, including improving the level of protection PPOs provide in practice, and the ease with which one is able to apply for them.

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) works with single mothers through our Support, Housing and Enablement project. Of these mothers, all those who have experienced spousal violence have chosen not to file for PPOs. This is for two reasons.

First: They believe a PPO would be ineffective.

In our experience, women do not file for PPOs lightly. Often violence occurs multiple times before an application is filed.

Second: The application process is traumatic. It is often painful and difficult when the complainants have to come face to face with their abusers.

Let's concentrate on addressing violence against women, and trust the criminal justice system to deal with false reporting.

Elizabeth Quek

Programme Manager, Support,

Housing and Enablement Project

The Association of Women for Action and Research

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