Push for defence for women who kill violent men

Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

March 9, 2014

Almost every man killed by his female partner in the past decade in NSW had been previously violent towards her, exclusive figures show.

Women who kill their partners often end up pleading guilty to manslaughter or murder, which experts say shows the legal system may be failing domestic violence victims.

They also fear new reforms to provocation laws introduced to Parliament this week are a ''retrograde step'' that may lead to more domestic violence victims being locked up.

Under the revised provocation defence, it will be harder for people to claim they were provoked to kill by events such a partner leaving or cheating on them, or an unwanted homosexual advance.

But it falls short of introducing several measures to protect victims of domestic violence recommended by a parliamentary inquiry, including a Victorian measure that explicitly encourages evidence of domestic violence in murder cases.

The new analysis of every domestic violence death in NSW between 2000 and 2010 has found 29 men were killed by their female partner.

Of those women, 28 had been victims of domestic violence from the man who died, according to the Domestic Violence Deaths Review Team analysis. In seven cases, the women had fought back at times, while in 21, he was the sole perpetrator.

Two-thirds of the women were convicted of murder or manslaughter; the majority pleaded guilty.

Team manager Anna Butler said the figures showed domestic violence deaths were ''completely different'' for men and women. ''It is women who were victims in the relationship, killing their abusive partner.''

Deakin University criminology lecturer Kate Fitz-Gibbon said the figures made her question whether the system had got the best outcome. ''There is a very high number there who have pleaded guilty to manslaughter. My concern there is how many could have run a self-defence claim and have been acquitted?''

University of NSW professor Julie Stubbs said the new law changes did not accept recommendations for an amendment that specifically considered domestic violence in murder cases, removed the requirement for juries to consider the perspective of the killer, and only allowed the provocation defence in cases where the deceased had committed a serious indictable offence.

''These three things are going to be really damaging for battered women,'' she said. She was concerned women were being charged with murder in order to encourage them to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Greens MP David Shoebridge, who was on the committee that looked at the provocation laws, said he was concerned the government had also not adopted a recommendation to remove the defence that someone had lost self-control.

''We had a number of witnesses say that test was designed to deal with male violence, far more than it deals with a violent female response in a domestic violence situation,'' he said. This was because female victims would often wait until they felt safest - such as when their partner was passed out or asleep - to attack.

He said the Greens reserved the right to amend the bill.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General, Greg Smith, said NSW could not have implemented domestic violence evidence changes based on the Victorian law, as it was not in line with the other states and had been extensively criticised. She said measures existed to take domestic violence into account.

The NSW Domestic Violence Line 1800 65 64 63

The National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)


commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
This has got to be one of the most disgusting examples of promotion of hatred towards men,
a example of promotion of murder of men, to use a subterfuge of "defence" claiming to be a victim of domestic violence.

This "journalist" has a long track record for promoting feminist myths and it boggles the brain
 to comprehend how the Sydney Morning Herald can engage in the
promotion of Murder and violence towards men.