Estonian Legislation Has Room for Growth
The Estonian government is setting its legal policy goals until the year 2030. There is a good case for including more systematic and effective procedures for preventing and combating domestic violence among these goals.
There are still 51 countries worldwide with no specific legal acts on domestic violence, and one of these is Estonia. More positively, there are 140 countries that have such legal acts. The 2014 and 2017 surveys conducted by the Estonian Open Society Institute and the Faculty of Law of the University of Tartu among the practicing lawyers in Estonia showed that 40% are ready for a new paradigm. This is a leading group whose innovative mindset says that Estonia needs a more comprehensive legal solution to the complex problems surrounding domestic violence. The legal professionals are quite worried because they do not see the state successfully solving the key issues of domestic violence: prevention of serious cases, taking control over the perpetrator of violence and the situation in violent households, or ensuring financial support and other material benefits to victims. The surveys revealed other reasons behind the lack of efficiency: a weak legal foundation that fails to decipher the nature and specific features of domestic violence, lack of specialisation, inadequate cooperation between specialists, etc. Just like the leading countries around the world, Estonia should look for ways to enhance the efficiency of the work of legal professionals and the entire legal system, in order to prevent and combat violence. A shift towards a more systematic solution requires political will. Consequently, politicians should include a focus on domestic violence as a key issue on their list of priorities, something that should be reflected in the new coalition agreement in less than a year’s time.