Battered Women's Experiences of the Criminal Justice System: Decentring the Law

Feminist Legal Studies, 20 2: 121-134

Posted: 11 Jun 2015

See all articles by Heather Douglas

Heather Douglas

The University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This article takes up Smart's suggestion to examine the way the law works in practice. It explores the context of current criminal prosecutions of domestic violence offences in Queensland, Australia. This article argues that legal method is applied outside the higher courts or "judge-oriented" practice and that the obstacles inherent to legal method can be identified in the practices of police, lower court staff, magistrates and lawyers. This article suggests that it may be difficult to deconstruct legal method, even by focussing on law in practice, and as a result it may be difficult to successfully challenge law's truth claims in this way. The analysis of criminal prosecutions of domestic violence offences reported here supports Smart's earlier findings that women and children who seek redress through the criminal justice process find the process at best ambivalent and at worst, destructive. However, the article also shows how, in the Queensland context, women sometimes find their way to feminism and personal empowerment by going to law.

JEL Classification: k00

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Heather, Battered Women's Experiences of the Criminal Justice System: Decentring the Law (2012). Feminist Legal Studies, 20 2: 121-134, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2617128

Heather Douglas (Contact Author)

The University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law ( email )

The University of Queensland
St Lucia
4072 Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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