Politicians from the left and right supported the passing of a law which singles out “repeated” verbal actions intended to hurt the victim’s rights and dignity or their physical or mental health. As well as a jail sentence, offenders could be ordered to pay a fine of up to €75,000 (£66,600).
When I first heard about this (on the BBC world service news show last night) there was criticism of this law as ’empty law making’ – critics claimed that it would be hard to in fact prosecute and get convictions, and the law was likely therefore to be ineffective.
Even if so, it didn’t seem to me to be empty law making – such a law could help reinforce that such psychologically abusive forms of behaviour are unacceptable, or might help individuals subject to such abuse feel reasonable in seeking help…
I also thought there were some philosophically interesting/troubling parts to the law (as it is reported). Why the focus on what the perpetrator in fact intends, rather than on what effects could be reasonably forseen? Why ‘repeated’ verbal actions – could not a one off insult or threat be seriously damaging? Why only verbal actions – might gestures or other behaviour be psychologically abusive?