‘A Leap Forward’? Critiquing the Criminalization of Domestic Abuse in Northern Ireland

37 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020

See all articles by Rachel Killean

Rachel Killean

Queen's University Belfast School of Law

Date Written: September 29, 2020

Abstract

Following in the footsteps of other jurisdictions across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is currently taking steps to criminalise ‘domestic abuse’. The proposed offence is strongly influenced by research into ‘coercive control’ a framing popularised by Evan Stark that captures both physical and non-physical forms of abuse. In this article, I introduce the Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill, before analysing its likely impacts on victim-survivors. To do so, I draw from three key critiques of criminalisation that have emerged from both reformist and anti-carceral feminist scholarship. First, that implementation will pose practical challenges; second, that criminalisation will result in a range of unintended harms; and third, that criminalisation alone is an ineffective response to domestic abuse. In light of these critiques, I argue for a more holistic response, which considers the underlying social structures and dynamics that contextualise the phenomenon of domestic abuse.

Suggested Citation

Killean, Rachel, ‘A Leap Forward’? Critiquing the Criminalization of Domestic Abuse in Northern Ireland (September 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701686 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701686

Rachel Killean (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN
Ireland

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