New Zealand has passed legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to leave their partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children.

MPs clapped and cheered as bill passed on Wednesday night with 63 votes to 57. It is the result of seven years of work by Green MP Jan Logie, who worked in a women’s refuge before she became a politician.

Despite some opposition National MPs initially supporting Logie’s private members bill the entire party withdrew its support at the final reading, saying the cost to small and medium-size businesses would be too great, and might dissuade employers from hiring people they suspected of being domestic violence victims.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world, with police responding to a family violence incident every four minutes. Family violence is estimated to cost the country between NZ$4.1bn and $7bn a year.

At present the only country other than New Zealand to have passed such a law at national level is the Philippines, whose Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 includes provision for victims to take up to 10 days’ special leave. Under section 43 of the act, employers trying to impede such leave face penalties. However, it is unclear whether these provisions are widely known, used or enforced.

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