Battered Woman Syndrome: Prospect of Situating It within Criminal Law in India
91 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2019
Date Written: May 30, 2018
While most of the common law countries have already undergone a social change towards making their criminal laws more gender-sensitive by accommodating the experiences of battered women, the situation in India is quite different. The Indian courts have recognised Battered Woman Syndrome only very recently in three cases, much differently than courts of other jurisdictions. While in other countries Battered Woman Syndrome has been adduced by the advocates of battered women to support defence pleas, the Indian Courts have resorted to it only to explain the effects of battering relationship. The fact that Battered Woman Syndrome has only been recognised in such small number of cases proves the resistance of the Indian criminal law towards women’s accounts of experiences. Against this background, this research paper attempts to explore the possibility of situating Battered Woman Syndrome within criminal law in India to cut into the male-centric structure by addressing the concerns of battered women who, accused of homicide or attempt to commit homicide, kill their abusers in ‘kill-or-be killed’ situations. This study also includes a critical appraisal of the existing defences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 along with an assessment of the need for introducing a new justificatory defence to accommodate the cases of battered women.
Keywords: Battered Woman Syndrome, Criminal Law, Defence, Gender-sensitive, Homicide
JEL Classification: K14
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