Domestic Violence Act 1996
The Domestic Violence Act of Guyana was passed in December, 1996 in order
to give legal protection to persons who have suffered abuse or are at risk
of suffering domestic abuse. The explanation given here was originally
presented in the leaflet "The Domestic Violence Act : How can it help
you or a friend" published by the UNDP, Guyana. c 1997
Who gets protection under the Act?
What is considered abuse in the Act?
What is harassment?
About the Protection Order, the Occupation Order
and the Tenancy Order
The role of the Police
Please note that these forms have to be printed on Legal Size Paper
(8.5 inches by 14 inches)
Download the application form in MS Word
Download the application form in PDF
Who gets protection under the Act?
Any person who is suffering domestic abuse is automatically eligible to
be protected by the Act. Any abused person, adult or child can get protection
A spouse, fiance(e) or reputed spouse, or partner with whom they live
Anyone who lives in the household today or has lived in the past, but not
tenants or employees unless there were sexual relations with them
Any person with whom the victim has had a sexual relationship
What is abuse?
The words that are used to describe abuse are ill treatment, violation,
molestation, seduction and betrayal. It need not be only physical violence.
Abuse can also be "Psychological Abuse" This means any activity which
persistently humiliates the victim, dishonours her or him, or lowers their
self esteem like :
Not allowing them to handle their own things or property
Watching over them in a way which is threatening
Not allowing the victim to eat or sleep well
Manipulating the children
Causing the victim emotional agony
In order to qualify for protection under the Domestic Violence Act,
the person has to have suffered abuse or harassment.
What is harassment?
Harassment is when someone threatens or intimidates another person by:
Verbal abuse - "cussing up", screaming, humiliating
Threatening with physical harm or violence
Breaking things or damaging things which are important to the victim
Making the victim scared or afraid of physical or psychological harm
Threatening the victim
Hiding things belonging to the victim
Watching over the house, work place, school or anywhere the victim goes
for daily business
Making unwelcome advances
Using abusive language
About the Orders
What is a Protection Order?
A protection order is a document which the Court issues which prevents
the abuser from harming the victim. It is meant to restrain the abuser.
If the abuser harms the victim in spite of the order, the abuser can be
arrested without a warrant. The Protection Order is meant to guarantee's
the victim's safety, well being and health.
How can a Protection order do that? What does it really do?
The Protection order prevents the abuser from entering the home or workplace
of the victim, or from going anywhere the victim goes like friends and
It prevents the abuser from going into certain localities.
It restrains the abuser from harming or harassing the victim or the
It can make the abuser provide the victim with money for the upkeep
of the victim or the children
It prevents the abuser from moving the victim's property
It can also make the abuser go into a counseling program
Who can file for a Protection Order?
The victim can do it. The court has forms that have to be used to fill
up the form. The staff at the court could also assist with filling up the
A qualified social worker or a police officer can also file the application
on behalf of the victim.
If the victim is a child under 16 or is mentally disabled, the parents
or guardian, or the person with whom the victim lives, or a qualified social
worker or a police officer will have to file the application.
What is an Occupation Order?
When the court makes a Protection Order, it can also make an Occupation
Order. This order entitles the victim to continue to live in the her or
his home, even if the home belongs to the abuser. This means that the abuser
cannot throw the victim out, but the abuser will have no legal right to
occupy the house while the order is in force! However, the is does not
mean that the ownership of the house is transferred to the victim.
It means that the victim can live in the house even though it belongs to
What is a Tenancy Order?
If the victim and abuser are tenants of the house they live in, the court
gives the victim the right to be the only tenant. The abuser will have
no legal right to live in the house.
How long are the orders valid? What can the abuser do legally?
The orders are valid for a specific period. The abuser can make an application
for the discharge of the order as soon as it is passed. This will call
for another hearing and the victim, or person filing the application for
the order on behalf of the victim, can argue that the orders must continue.
The courts will consider first the danger to the victim, and to any children
of the victim.
How soon are the orders passed?
If the victim is in immediate danger and the situation is like an emergency,
the order can be passed as soon as the application is filed. Otherwise,
a hearing will be fixed within seven days after the application is filed.
All of the persons have to be present at the hearing. The magistrate will
have to make sure that the case is genuine. The magistrate has to be convinced
that such an order is needed for the safety, well being and health of the
victim or of the children involved. The magistrate also has to be convinced
that the victim needs a place to live before granting an Occupation or
The Act says that all hearings will be held without an audience. The
newspapers and media cannot report on these cases unless the magistrate
allows them to do so. The persons affected by the application can request
reporters or other people to leave the court room during the hearing.
The Role of the Police.
Under the Domestic Violence Act, the police officers have a crucial role
to play in ensuring the safety of victims or any other persons in danger.
They can file an application in the court on behalf of the victim.
They can arrest an abuser without a warrant if he violates the court
They have a duty to assist the victim by ensuring that the victim is
taken to hospital and gets medical attention if they are injured as a result
of domestic violence.
The police has to ensure that any person who is afraid of domestic violence
and feels unsafe is moved to a safe place.
For further information about the Domestic Violence Act, please contact
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