The screenshot above has been circulating on WhatsApp with claims that New Zealand has become the first country to pass a law that will grant victims of domestic violence 10 paid leave days from work to enable them to leave their partners and find new homes and protect themselves and their children.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world. Family violence is estimated to cost the country between NZ$ 4.1 billion and $7 billion a year. In May 2020, NZ$ 200 million was set-aside in the year’s budget for domestic and sexual violence services that rose during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Laws on domestic violence exist in several countries. In the Philippines, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 includes provision for victims to take up to 10 days’ special leave. Under section 43 of the act, employers trying to impede such leave face penalties. However, it is unclear whether these provisions are widely known, used or enforced. Such laws also exist in Canada at a provincial level in Ontario.
In June 2020, the city of Yiwu in eastern China began a pilot program that allows residents to check whether their partner has a history of domestic abuse before getting married. The database comes after an uptick in domestic violence during lockdowns and quarantine measures across China during the Covid-19 outbreak.
A Google reverse image search of the screenshot in question shows that the law was indeed passed but it happened in 2018.
A report by The Guardian dated July 26, 2018, says the legislation was passed after 7 years of work by Green MP Jan Logie (pictured in the screenshot at the centre). She worked in a women’s refuge before she became a politician.
According to the article, “Domestic violence victims do not have to provide proof of their circumstances, and will also be entitled to fast-tracked flexible work conditions designed to ensure their safety, such as changing their work location, changing their email address and having their contact details removed from the business’s website.” The law took effect in April 2019.
The screenshot also shows that it was shared on a page called PlayGround+. A search for the page shows that the page also shared the post on July 26, 2018, on Facebook.
However, even in 2018, New Zealand was not the first country to pass laws on domestic violence paid leave as claimed in the post, as such laws already existed in the Philippines and parts of Canada.