Provocation and Responsibility

By Jeremy Horder | Go to book overview

9
Anger, Mitigation, and Gender

Week by week and month by month, women are kicked, beaten, jumped on until they are crushed, chopped, stabbed, seamed with vitriol, bitten, eviscerated with red-hot pokers and deliberately set on fire--and this sort of outrage, if the woman dies, is called 'manslaughter': if she lives it is a common assault.1

This short chapter has two aims. The first is to search for a context in which to explain the relevance of gender politics to an understanding of the existence and working of provocation as a partial defence to murder. The second is to provide reasons to believe that there is no moral justification for acting on a desire to take retribution personally. If either aim is successful (which is not to suggest that the two are unconnected), our conclusion is that the defence of provocation ought to be abolished.2


1. BATTERED WOMEN WHO KILL

The overwhelming probability is that in general killers will be mate rather than female, whatever the gender of their victims.3 Interestingly, those who make up the small number of female homicide defendants have rarely expressed fatal violence outside the domestic context, unlike their male counterparts. None the less women are generally more likely to be the victims of domestic homicide than men: in 1989, 103 men were convicted of homicide having killed their partner or former partner, compared with only 26 women.4 What is more, it is likely that up to three-quarters of these 26 women will have been battered (usually over a prolonged period) by their partner prior to the killing, whereas it is only very rarely indeed that male

____________________
1
Letter from Mrs Fenwick Miller to the Daily News, reported by the Pall Mall Gazette, 2 Oct. 1888.
2
A somewhat ironic conclusion in the light of the fact that in Chs. 6 and 8 it was suggested that if the logic of an uncritical, exegetical analysis of the doctrine is accepted, the doctrine ought logically to be considerably extended.
3
See Wells ( 1990: 127) for a summary of some relevant statistics and sources; also Edwards n. 5 below; Williams ( 1978: 524).
4
Statistics published by the Home Office in response to a Parliamentary question (No. 361), 17 Oct. 1991. See Figs. 2 and 3 for comparative numbers of homicide indictments and convictions 1982-9.

-186-

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Provocation and Responsibility
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Introduction vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Table of Statutes xiii
  • Table of Cases xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1- The Early Centuries Of Development 5
  • 2- The Seventeenth Century 23
  • 3- Honour, Anger, and Virtue 43
  • 4- Anger as Outrage 59
  • 5- The Rise of Loss Of Self-Control 72
  • 6- Justifying Mitigation Morally 111
  • 8- Excusing Action in Anger 156
  • 9- Anger, Mitigation, and Gender 186
  • References 199
  • Index 205
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