Alternative Law Journal Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 108-112
6 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2009 Last revised: 20 Jun 2018
Date Written: 1995
Do Eskimo, kinship terms, Christopher Columbus and a battered woman who kills her partner have something in common? The following paper will explore the thread of commonality - reality - or more specifically, how people in a society create their reality. The woman who takes the life of her violent partner in Australia is usually defined by our courts, by judges and lawyers, as having committed an act of murder or at the least, manslaughter. This is despite a High Court decision (Zecevic v. DPP 1987) which stated that the question to be asked 'is whether the accused believed upon reasonable grounds that it was necessary in self defence to do what he (sic) did.' If he (sic) had that belief and there were reasonable grounds for it, or if the jury are left with a reasonable doubt about the matter, then the accused is entitled to an acquittal. In a society such as Australia, with all its gender biases and stereotypes, does an objective reasonable test include women's experiences? Or is there a need for a subjective test of whether the woman herself believed in the necessity of killing to defend?
Keywords: battered women, reality, self defence
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