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Defences to Murder: A Woman-Centred Analysis



This thesis has developed a woman-centred analytical framework and accompanying court room strategy to critically evaluate the legal construction of abused women who kill and their reactions to abuse in the context of the defences to homicide. This builds upon the existence of extensive empirical evidence which explains the defensive nature of female perpetrated intimate partner homicides. Despite such information, the recognition of abused women’s reactions as reasonable within the context of domestic violence is not reflected within the defences to homicide. Instead, abused women must fall within masculine constructions of appropriate reaction, or else be constructed within a psychological framework premised upon the existence of a mental abnormality. \ud \ud In order to challenge the legal construction of abused women who kill, this thesis evaluated the strategic possibilities apparent within the admissibility of expert testimony concerning domestic violence. It used abused women’s narratives and social contexts to demonstrate the reasonable nature of their reaction. The potential of such testimony was explored when the strategy was applied to the current partial and complete defences to homicide. Upon application, it became clear that the defences to homicide are implicitly gender biased, making the admissibility of such testimony insufficient to challenge prevailing and masculine notions of appropriate behaviour. \ud \ud Therefore, this thesis has argued that it is necessary to implement a partial defence of excessive force in self defence. This would recognise the defensive nature of abused women’s reactions to abuse whilst enabling abused women’s narratives and social contexts to be used as a means of challenging the current legal constructions of abused women who kill. It is hoped that these narratives will be used to facilitate further legal reform until abused women’s reactions to abuse can appropriately be incorporated into the complete defence of self defence. \u

Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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