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Hastily applying the law may harm rather than help relationships

Mr Alan John from Pave advocates "widening" the definition of domestic violence to include unmarried people in dating or live-in relationships (Smart single women and boyfriends who beat them; Dec 10, 2017).

I find this argument problematic.

First, he makes the presumption that a legal approach to dealing with relationship issues is the right way to help these "victims".

On the contrary, callously applying the law within the context of close relationships harms rather than heals the relationship.

The existence of a protection order creates deep mistrust between parties and is a hindrance to addressing the underlying issues.

If both parties have a desire to maintain the relationship, it would require that they take constructive steps - such as undergoing counselling or conflict management - to try to resolve the issues between them, rather than have one or both parties use the law, in the form of a protection order, as a "weapon" against the other.

Second, unmarried people in dating or live-in relationships do not share the same commitment and legal obligations as a married couple or a family member.

Applying domestic violence laws to such unmarried persons is clearly a legal overreach, which has multifold implications.

The better option for such individuals who feel "abused" is to simply leave the relationship.

As a society, we need to adopt the right attitude towards our relationships and work on our ability to resolve conflicts amicably.

Hastily applying the law in relationship issues can only lead to unwanted consequences and further conflict.

Nelson Kwek

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 07, 2018, with the headline 'Hastily applying the law may harm rather than help relationships'. Print Edition | Subscribe