Domestic violence is a phenomenon of which women are predominantly the victims. For a long period of time, legal regimes relegated such violence into the private or family sphere and refused to provide any relief to its victims.
The aim of this paper is to trace how domestic violence gradually evolved from this early position, to the modern perception of it as a violation of women’s rights demanding state intervention. For this purpose the paper will begin by examining the international treaties and conventions containing provisions relevant to domestic violence such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
It will then proceed to identify the extent to which Sri Lanka, which is bound by these international instruments, has taken steps to incorporate treaty obligations into domestic legislation. The scope and role of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act No 34 of 2005, which is seen as the key attempt of the state to combat domestic violence in Sri Lanka, will then be studied in order to identify the extent to which it provides a viable solution to those confronted with domestic violence and make homes safe spaces for women in Sri Lanka.