By E. Khürelbaatar, Reporter, “Ödriin Sonin” (Daily News)
A man, who came home drunk and slapped his wife, was sentenced under the new law against domestic violence. He was sentenced to 25 days in prison by a judge. And a woman, who spanked her son for not doing his homework was also sentenced.
In order to report on these and other matters, I visited the detention center 441 at Gants Khudag of the General Executive Agency of Court Decision of Mongolia near Ulaanbaatar.
When I arrived at the center at 9 in the morning, the meeting room was already packed full. Young people, who have been sentenced for breach of domestic violence law, were meeting with their family members.
S. Mönkhzorig, a professor of the Mongolian National University of Education was arrested. He told me “I returned home after taking some shots of alcohol with my colleagues and apparently I slapped and yelled at my wife who was grumbling. Our neighbors had called the police. The next day, my wife, in her anger, had written a complaint to the police and the same evening I was taken into 72 hour custody and taken directly to a court. The judge passed a 25 day detention sentence to all the men who had resorted to violence against their family members. My wife failed when she tried to withdraw her complaint with the police the next day as under the new law this is not possible. And now I’ll most probably have to sit behind bars during the Naadam holidays,” said Mönkhzorig.
There are many young men who have been sentenced to short-term jail terms for domestic violence, according to the officers of the detention center. “Some 40 young men are detained,” he said. “There were, at one time, 98 detainees in a prison cell intended for 30 inmates. Yesterday, for example, there were more than 50 detainees each in five prison cells.” Detention center officers claim that many of these young people are ignorant about how severe the punishment has become under the new domestic violence law.
“It’s becoming increasingly important to inform the public about the law,” the officers said.
Admitted Mönkhzorig, “I remember the media informing about the new domestic violence law. I always thought that domestic violence meant shouting or hitting at your wife, bullying or causing physical injury after you come home drinking. I thought the law was for such people, but I was wrong.”
He explained why he mistreated his wife. “I had gone to a party of my colleague for a ceremony whose son’s hair was being cut. I was made to drink but I had not lost control of myself completely, and when I came back home my wife took long to open the door and I was incensed and in my anger I apparently hit her but soon we were able to control ourselves and had gone to bed.” But his wife had already complained to her mother who had asked her to write a complaint to the police after which it did not help even if his wife wanted to withdraw her complaint.
In the past, before the new law came into force, filed complaints could be withdrawn and the charges against the perpetrators of domestic violence were dropped and they would be released on parole. But such perpetrators of domestic violence, even after being paroled, would continue to mistreat their wife and family members.
Now under the new law, this is not possible. Now a repeater can face criminal charges and can be sentenced from 2 up to 5 years.
However, according to the university professor Mönkhzorig, other detainees like him believe that the law is a bit lopsided, which too is leading to family breakups since the law came into force in December last year and according to Mönkhzorig, officers at the detention center too agree with the above remarks.
A 14 day sentence for a mother who had spanked her child who had not done his home work
I enquired from the officers of the detention center as to who was being detained and what the charges were.
I learnt that a 40 year old woman had been sentenced to 14 day imprisonment from one of the districts in Ulaanbaatar. The woman’s child was loitering outside not doing homework. The child’s teacher had complained to his mother that her son was not performing well at school. And when her son refused to do his homework, the mother in anger hit him. The boy reported to the police and the mother was arrested for domestic violence.
I also learnt about a boy of 17 being detained at the center. He had asked his father for 30 thousand tögrög for his class graduation party but was refused and in anger he bit back his father. The case was reported to the police and the boy was arrested.
A wife sees her husband detained
A lady Batsüren by name, who temporarily resides in Sweden, had called the police response center in Ulaanbaatar, alleging that her husband is drunk and was calling her non-stop, threatening to take her life. Accordingly, the police went to the woman’s home and found her husband alone but drunk, who was arrested and handed over to the court, and the judge sentenced the ‘drunk’ husband to 25 days in detention.
A man is detained for secretly recording a meeting between his wife and a stranger
Officers at the Gants Khudag detention center also shared several interesting stories of people who were arrested on strange circumstances.
A certain young man Batsugar by name had accessed the Facebook of his wife who had gone out with her work colleagues for an evening party. He went to the restaurant after he found out where she was having a party when she was exchanging messages with her friends. Batsugar got into a brawl with his wife’s colleagues and was arrested and detained. The next morning Batsugar was interrogated and asked how he found where his wife was having party, and when Batsugar replied “Facebook,” he was sentenced to 30 days behind bars for secretly spying on his wife.
From this it expires that under the domestic violence law, interference in and prying into one’s partner’s privacy is a crime.
Similarly, if one is found guilty of secretly taking video shots of his or her partner, then the person is likely to be arrested and sentenced.
A young man Jargalsaikhan’s wife through the Ulaanbaatar city response center had called for police help because her husband was raising his hands against her. The man Jargalsaikhan was detained and when he was interrogated, he complained that his wife was having an affair. The inspector asked why he was sure his wife was having an affair and when he showed his smartphone in which he had secretly recorded his wife with her lover, Jargalsaikhan was wronged and sentenced for secretly prying into the private life of his wife, which is a crime under the new law.
This is how the new domestic violence law is impacting the life of young men. They are being detained and sentenced because most of them do not know under what circumstances and for what action they can be detained and sentenced. Moreover, most of the young men who have been detained in this manner are losing their jobs and even getting divorced.
It’s common knowledge that a law has its good and bad sides.
Although the new domestic violence law is good in the sense that it will prevent domestic violence, and prevent someone from beating one’s child and wife behind closed doors, it is not helping prevent breakdowns in family relations and leading to more divorces.
The most unfortunate thing about any divorce is that children become victims and suffer.
The article is translated and reproduced with due permission from the “Ödriin Sonin” (Daily News)