The Circumstances as She Believed Them to Be: Asian Migrant Women and the Importance of Context in the Courtroom

37 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020

See all articles by Hannah Patterson

Hannah Patterson

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni

Date Written: September 2, 2019

Abstract

New Zealand courts are failing in their consideration and application of self-defence in situations where the defendant is an Asian migrant victim of IPV. Self-defence requires an assessment of the circumstances as the defendant believed them to be. Asian migrant women experience myriad forms of oppression that compound and intersect. They face distinctive barriers to leaving abuse that are not experienced by non-immigrant, Pākehā women. This paper argues that where the defendant is an Asian migrant IPV victim, a thorough understanding of the cultural factors and institutional inequity they face is crucial to a correct application of the law of self-defence. R v Wang is an example of the courts ignoring salient contextual factors and failing to understand the defendant’s circumstance when considering self-defence. This paper considers the use of Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) expert evidence and concludes that it provides a pyrrhic victory at best to Asian migrant defendants who are IPV victims. R v Zhou illustrates how BWS fails to accurately communicate the lived experiences of Asian migrant defendants to the court and risks further perpetuating racist stereotypes about Asian cultures and Asian migrant women.

Keywords: Intimate partner violence, Self-defence, Asian migrant women, Battered Women Syndrome

JEL Classification: K00, K14

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Hannah, The Circumstances as She Believed Them to Be: Asian Migrant Women and the Importance of Context in the Courtroom (September 2, 2019). Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 7/2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3556199 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3556199

Hannah Patterson (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, Victoria 6140
New Zealand

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