SOFIA, Bulgaria – Domestic violence should now be punishable not only in the case of marriage or cohabitation but also in the case of an intimate relationship, as per amendments to the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act adopted by lawmakers on first reading on Monday.

The amendments were sponsored by Kiril Petkov of Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB), Boyko Borissov of GERB-UDF, Delyan Peevski of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and other MPs.

The bill defines an intimate relationship as a voluntary, relatively durable union between two persons, which arises and exists as a de facto state without the need to comply with a legally regulated procedure, whether the persons share a household or not, the guiding element being the “strictly personal nature” of their relationship.

The definition of “intimate relationship” sparked fierce debate in the plenary.

According to representatives of There Is Such a People, the Bulgarian Socialist party and Vazrazhdane, the current definition is vague, confusing and will lead to strife.

Nadejda Iordanova of CC-DB stated that the motives of the bill are clear – to extend the protection afforded under the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act to cases of violence between intimate partners.

Toma Bikov of GERB-UDF said that domestic violence is a cultural phenomenon.

According to Bikov, assailants who attack their loved ones do not think about the law and the punishment.

They would assault, because they are primitive, because they are shunned by society, their family, the education system, the MP added. (BTA)