We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Defences to Murder: A Woman-Centred Analysis

GAUSDEN, ANNA,CATHERYN (2011) Defences to Murder: A Woman-Centred Analysis. Masters thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


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.

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.

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.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Jurisprudence
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Dec 2011 12:27

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter