A Feminist Reflection on Domestic Violence Death Reviews
This paper was previously published as a chapter in Myrna Dawson, ed. Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) 373-398.
32 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 3, 2017
This paper interrogates what contribution feminist knowledge and praxis might make to assessing and deepening the work of Domestic Violence Death Review Committees (DVDRCs). While DVDRCs may be struck by governments or civil society and may differ in terms of the form and content of their governance, all DVDRCs have their origins in the work of frontline feminist activists who documented the unique features that differentiate woman killing from other forms of homicide and demonstrated that intimate femicide is predictable and therefore preventable. Another uniting characteristic of DVDRCs is that their work is overwhelmingly focused on the deaths of women, since women account for the vast majority of domestic violence deaths -- 83% of such deaths in Canada.
DVDRCs build on the important work of frontline feminists by studying domestic violence homicides, identifying risk factors, ascertaining points of contact with legal and social structures that might have intervened, and making recommendations for change in law, policy, and practice for the purpose of preventing such deaths in the future. Yet when one reads the reports of DVDRCs, feminists, feminist analysis, and feminist practice are almost entirely absent from the overwhelming majority. This paper will investigate what imperatives a feminist framework might bring to this work. It will compare the language and terminology, theoretical frameworks and working assumptions, conventional practices, and recommendations of DVDRCs as against feminist terminology, frameworks and assumptions, praxis, and reforms to assess the potential of DVDRCs respond to intimate femicide.
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