What I would like to speak about is the co-ordinated approach to violence identification and intervention in Germany and the United States. First I will speak about the German policy-making context, then the recent developments in German law that deal with male domestic violence specifically. I also want to describe the longest standing violence intervention project in Germany, finally I will name a COUPLE best practices from the United States that I believe Europe can profit from.
1. The Policy-Making Context and the New Policy
I think Germany is well on its way to using an integrated approach to deal with male violence. Both the law and other policy-makers are currently striving toward more adequate co-ordinated standards. Interdisciplinary partnerships for IDENTIFICATION, INTERVENTION AND PREVENTION are being created. I attribute this change in
attitude and policy to the kind of dialogue between different disciplines that DAPHNE is meant to encourage. What has also helped is the international dialogue that DAPHNE has made possible.
It is true that, in the law, for many, many years we have seen many piece-meal reforms. I have worked on agonising deliberations about the reform of single clauses, some of which have taken twenty years to pass. For example the inclusion of marital rape in the criminal law definition of rape. It can make you wonder if the law has much of a sense for the whole picture.
Yet, there is a consensus in Germany that there must be a co-ordinated approach to
male domestic violence. This is stated policy in some local and state governments, and
for just over a year now, it has been stated policy of the federal government. The goal
is to combine the expertise and skills of public and non-governmental institutions. I
think many institutions want to ensure social welfare services can interact productively with legal advocacy and law enforcement and vice versa. It was the NGOs who began by creating new networks in which to share their expertise and resources. Now NGOs and public institutions, be it law enforcement or otherwise, are pursuing ways to integrate their fields.
In Germany, it is less a pool of funds or the government than the women’s anti- violence movement which has been responsible for the inception of interdisciplinary approaches. I would also like to give credit to public entities, particularly the police in many communities. Women’s groups have created new networks to connect up with each other and with the government, at the small community level, in large cities, some state-wide. Round tables have been set up to sound out the need for co- ordinated work. To some degree specific policy has changed. For example, in many communities, women’s shelters and hotlines have got together with the police and prosecuting attorneys to work out checklists and procedures for co-ordinated work on domestic violence cases.
And now, the law-maker is following suit. In Germany, first you see government make a plan, then the legislator comes into play. At the end of 1999, the federal cabinet came to a 30-page decision, agreeing to fight violence against women. The Action Plan of the Federal Government to Combat Violence Against Women can be
likened to a promissory note to scrutinise legal and other policies. You can find it in English on the website: www.bmfsfj.de.
This Action Plan obliges the federal government to change laws wherever it is
determined that they do not maintain a standard that truly protects women from
violent acts. There is hardly an area of the law and public policy that is not mentioned
in the Plan, including international relations. This expresses a sincere INTENTION to overcome the piece-meal strategy of the past.
The first federal law project to get started has been the Violence Protection Act, currently under consideration in the legislature. This bill will reform the civil and civil procedure codes, create for the most part a uniform jurisdiction of the family courts, and criminal law is being reworded. The parliamentary debate has been positive while harsh. It appears in this case to be particularly difficult for law practitioners and policy- writers to meet eye-to-eye on the details.
What we are looking forward to is a new and improved GO-ORDER for anyone experiencing or threatened by violence in their home. This will give unmarried persons and homosexual persons civil procedural remedies for essentially the first time. And stalking will be prohibited for the first time. The language of the law includes cyber stalking.
Anyone experiencing abuse from a current or former co-habitant will be able to call the civil court and have the perpetrator banned from the flat or house she is sharing or has shared with him. It does not matter whose housing it by contract. The protection order can be issued for up to a six-month period. In certain circumstances, it can be
extended for a total of twelve months. The court will be able to prohibit contact at the workplace, school, en route thereto and so forth. Infractions against these protection orders will be penalised with a fine or imprisonment of up to a year. This is where criminal law comes into play.
This legal vision sounds familiar to anyone who has been admiring and envying the
Austrian violence intervention community for the past few years. In contrast to Austria,
the German federal legislature has no jurisdiction over the police. It cannot formulate
policy to make sure the police understands how important a police removal of a violent person from a domicile can be. Particularly if a woman is to have the wherewithal to go to a civil court justice for help in the first place. The law governing the police is one of the few areas in which the German state legislator has exclusive jurisdiction.
The debate continues on how to create better partnerships with the police.
The Ministers of the Interior began last year to show joint interest in policy review. Just three weeks ago as I speak, they jointly concluded that the states should have
procedures for domestic violence per se. Either in their police laws or by administrative instruction, a rule which is equally binding to the police officer.
This CONCLUSION is a huge step toward increased police protection. I say so because the principle of innocence, in dubio pro reo, has often been used to rule out police action on the behalf of violence victims. For example, I have heard police policy-
makers argue that removing a threatening person, particularly from a private domicile, assumes guilt where it has yet to be proven in court. Of course that makes it sound illegal. In fact this is not even a correct legal argument – under German law, the dubio pro reo principle does not apply until a case has left the police investigation stage and become a criminal law case per se.
Meanwhile, one state government in Germany has just submitted a police law reform
bill to the legislature to create a police protection order specifically for domestic
violence cases. Moreover, the bill includes data protection language to allow the police
TO COMMUNICATE WITH NON-GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES. This is will allow co-
operation between law enforcement and women’s advocacy. Three more states have
determined that they will also create specific clauses for domestic violence in their
2. The German Co-Ordinated Violence Intervention Movement
The epitome of the German co-ordinated violence intervention movement is in Berlin.
It is no mere coincidence the practice, policy and research-oriented programme that has received on-going federal and state funding the longest, having begun operations in 1995. It is called BIG – Berlin Intervention Project.
BIG is a non-governmental organisation and a cluster of organisations. The core group running BIG consists of just five women’s advocates, lawyers and educators. With the support of both the previous and the current federal administrations, this small team has engaged Berlin’s highest level government members. They have jointly formed a central steering committee, the BIG Round Table. (Berlin is a state, not merely a municipality. This means that the heads of state policy-making entities have joined NGO experts in running an intervention policy project. This is not an everyday arrangement in Germany.)
What is even more impressive about this structure is that 120 individuals are involved in the workgroups that report to the BIG Round Table. These 120 people come from NGOs, are lawyers in private practice and public employees from various levels and types of administration. The BIG workgroups have been able to make structural
changes to their own working conditions drawing on each others’ expertise. They work on a consensus principle. No field has veto power.
Other states have developed similarly systematic co-operations between disciplines and have reached at least a conceptual, policy-making stage at community and state-levels.
Some states have set up intervention centres comparable to the Austrian. They can
contact the woman to offer support and advocacy, working in conjunction with the police.
Another step in the direction of co-ordinated action is the Federal-State-Workgroup on Domestic Violence installed last year. This workgroup also brings policy-makers
and NGOs together. Potentially the Federal-State-Workgroup creates a nation-wide forum for even the smallest co-ordinated efforts at the community level.
3. Two Examples of Co-Ordinated Approaches in the United States
Perhaps the greatest source of innovation in co-ordinated violence intervention
approaches is the American funding policy. Funding under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and 2000 in the United States requires that projects be conducted in interdisciplinary teams. Moreover, the federal government – through the Violence Against Women Office - provides grants to communities throughout the states. No-one would claim that this interferes with the states’ autonomy. I wish the federal
governments in Europe could follow this model. You can find out more about this construct at the website: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo/.htm.
To illustrate the role lawyers’ professional associations can take, I would like to mention a co-operation project which the American Bar Association has got going.
The American Bar Association has developed a campaign to encourage violence identification, intervention and prevention at the workplace. This is a co-
operative project involving the private sector. One task is to protect women from
violent incidents. Another is to protect them from being sanctioned at the workplace,
for example for violence-related absenteeism. Basic brochures showing self-protective
behaviours for employees at risk are distributed at the workplace. This also helps employers understand what they may not have been consciously seeing in the past.
I am aware of one such project which a woman’s omsbudsperson has initiated in Germany. I realise that the need to reduce violence at the workplace is a special issue in the U.S. because of the dirth of gun control in most states. (Whereby there are mechanisms in place to prevent domestic violence perpetrators from getting an arms permit.) Nevertheless, I believe the susceptibility of women in violent relationships at or en route to and from work is an equally acute problem in countries where weapons are not as readily obtainable as in the United States – or where a woman cannot be made redundant from missing a day’s work as hastily as this can happen in the United States. Even in Europe where certain protections are better than in the U.S., women subjected to domestic violence are both physically at risk and at risk of being
sanctioned by an employer.
Another example of co-ordinated advocacy and intervention is the creation of domestic violence courts. There are over 100 different courts throughout the
United States, both in large cities and rural areas. Domestic violence courts range from criminal courts, with jurisdictions for misdemeanours and/or felonies. They can also have purely civil jurisdictions or a mix of criminal and civil. These courts all deal exclusively with domestic violence cases, as their name would imply. The justices involved receive training specifically for this work. In the criminal courts there are designated prosecuting attorneys. That means their training and specialisation are also assured.
Co-operation between disciplines is the norm. For example in New York, where each
case is followed up by an interdisciplinary team. The team consists of court staff, police
officers, the parole board, staff from men’s training programmes, social and health services and designated women’s shelters. Having designated women’s shelters available to women avoids confusion where quick responses are needed. The teams meet in regular monthly meetings. Communication continues between meetings as the need arises. This includes instantaneous communication. A computer network between the New York domestic violence courts and family courts, which issue protective orders, is due to be installed by the middle of this year. Very close working
relationships develop under such conditions. That is an important factor as it helps create systematic responses.
And it works. In this system, no-one can breach his parole without being monitored and immediately responded to. One conclusion of research has been that close
monitoring on the part of the court, not the parole board alone, is more likely to result in maintenance of non-violent behaviours than relying only on non-violence training for men.
This system also makes sure that a woman will not be abandoned to her so-called destiny by pure negligence or lack of an integrated, systematic response. On the contrary, she will be seen, listened to and heard.