Saturday, 27 June 2009

"..the instant, white-hot, wild, wakened female of the species.."

Over at Tim Worstall’s, bonkers feminist Julie Bindel salivates at the thought of the changes she expects to be made to the law, and drags out three ‘heartrending’ tales of domestic violence as examples of the kind of women (not men, oh, dear me no!) who can expect to be handed a get-out-of-jail-free card if it passes:
Judges have been known to express sympathy for men who claim they were nagged or cheated on by female partners, but often appear to have little for women who kill after being raped by their partners or experiencing domestic violence. This tends to be because when women who are being regularly beaten by their partners kill, their dominant emotions are usually fear or despair - not exactly a sudden, explosive "loss of self-control".
So, in mitigation, she presents three case studies sob stories for our delectation.

Let’s take a look, shall we?
On the day she killed Doolan, in October 2003, she had been drinking heavily in her local pub, becoming increasingly distressed. Doolan had been sending abusive and threatening text messages. "I called my mother and said, 'I can't take any more. Nick has ruined my life,'" said Akers. She decided to confront Doolan, and drove to his home, taking a knife with her for protection. When Doolan opened the door she stabbed him.
Hmm, she voluntarily went to the scene to confront the victim and took a weapon with her? I can see why ‘self-defence’ wasn’t going to fly there..!

Still, even so, she got off lightly:
She lost her appeal against her murder conviction in 2007 and her earliest release date has been set for 2015.
Less than 12 years? Not exactly hard-done by, under the circumstances.

Next!
Alicia Crown (not her real name) has been in prison for more than eight years. Her tariff was originally nine years, but was reduced to seven and a half in 2006 to reflect the evidence of violence and abuse that led her to kill. For Crown the stigma of being labelled a murderer brings an added burden. Recently she has lost her appeal against deportation to Jamaica, a country she had escaped because her life was in danger from a violent ex-partner as well as the ghetto violence that had led to her brother being murdered.
Hmm, so someone leaves a world of ‘violence’ and immediately takes up with another violent partner?
In May that year, Semple asked Crown if they could meet and sort out some problems in their relationship. When Crown arrived she could tell Semple had been drinking. He noticed Crown had a sore on her lip and accused her of having syphilis. In the ensuing argument, Semple started punching her in the face and threatening her with a fruit knife. Crown grabbed the knife when Semple dropped it and stabbed him during a struggle, running barefoot and injured from the scene, crying for help.

The flat revealed evidence of a struggle between the two, and a police doctor who examined Crown two days later found injuries partly consistent with her account of having been attacked by Semple. Crown pleaded self-defence at her trial, but the jury convicted her of murder.

Following her conviction, the judge said the evidence suggested she may well have killed in "excessive self-defence".
Yet again, she voluntarily met with the victim – though not taking her own knife this time. And are we supposed to be swayed by the deportation mention?
In law, the force used in self-defence must be equal to the threat and there should be no obvious means of escape. But the reality is that in a typical domestic violence relationship, where one partner is physically stronger and more confident in the use of violence, the victim may have an exaggerated fear of the danger. In cases where women kill, a knife is often used to defend against a fist, and sometimes a woman may kill to prevent a further attack.
So, should that argument prevail with a small man/large woman? Or would la Bindel come up with another excuse?

Next!
Kirsty Scamp stabbed her boyfriend Jason Bull to death on his 28th birthday. She had been reluctant to go out to celebrate with him because she was wary of his heavy drinking and cocaine use, which often led to violence.

"I had made him a birthday cake and wanted it to be a special day and not the usual drunken display, " she says. But on Bull's insistence, the couple went out in the late afternoon to meet friends in a pub. Bull drank heavily and took cocaine. When they returned home they started to argue, and when Scamp tried to stop him from drinking more, Bull began punching her and pulled out clumps of her hair. She left the flat to let him calm down, and sat on the steps outside the front door. She then overheard him on the phone "slagging me off" and went back in to confront him.

At that point, Scamp says, he turned "really nasty". She said she "had never seen him look the way he did that night. It was frightening." She grabbed a knife and stabbed Bull in the chest. "I ran out into the street and called an ambulance," said Scamp. "He was slumped against the door, and there was lots of blood, but I had no idea he was so seriously hurt."
Well, of course, having fled the immediate danger, it makes perfect sense to go back in because you are being called names….

Sorry, but I don’t find any of these cases persuasive of having somehow not received justice. In fact, given the agreed circumstances, I think they got off lightly.

Each one went back into a situation they had already escaped, voluntarily and of their own free will. Two of them because the man in the relationship was slandering them, in text, or on the phone. Not physically assaulting them, dissing them!

Now, how is that any different to the swaggering young gangstas knifing each other over 'respec', innit?' And if not, would they too have a defence under this new law?

Or just the girl gangstas?

This proposal is dangerous beyone belief. Let's hope it doesn't get through.

5 comments:

Angry Exile said...

Thornton became a cause célèbre for feminists campaigning against domestic violence. At the time, as the judge's comments made clear, little was known about what drives a battered woman to kill her abuser. Thornton appealed against her conviction, arguing that she killed as a result of "slow burn" provocation. She lost.

Two days later, Joseph McGrail killed his common-law wife, as she lay drunk, by kicking her repeatedly in the stomach. He was given a two-year suspended sentence for manslaughter and walked free. The judge expressed "every sympathy" for McGrail, adding "this lady would have tried the patience of a saint".


Bonkers feminist or not, that doesn't seem exactly even handed. However, I also wonder why Bindel seems so keen for equality before the law to mean that both sexes are as likely to get off with a soft sentence or a lesser charge. I'm also a little uncomfortable with the proposed change in the law, assuming she's reporting it accurately. Is it for Parliament to abolish a defense or introduce a new one? Or is it for a barrister to offer a defence and to a jury and for them to decide whether or not they accept it in the context of the offence and the other evidence? I'd hope the latter. If a defendant wants the barrister explain that they were provoked, or were in fear of their lives, or even that magic pixies sent a message by unicorn that made him do it, I think they should be free to put it to the jury. What gives Parliament the right to ban the magic pixies or any other defence? If you're going to have a jury system then you have to leave what constitutes an acceptable defence to the actual juries, and the beauty of that is it naturally gets looked at on a case by case basis instead of a blanket decision that this defence is always possible while that defence is not allowed. That might mean juries don't always deliver the most politically desirable results, but what are you going to do? Not like giving up and dispensing with juries altogether is an option, is it? Oh, silly me, of course it is. [headslap]

James Higham said...

Sorry, but I don’t find any of these cases persuasive of having somehow not received justice. In fact, given the agreed circumstances, I think they got off lightly.

This is the sane point of view, Julia but these days, sanity is in short supply in the public sphere.

JuliaM said...

"Bonkers feminist or not, that doesn't seem exactly even handed."

No, but then, different judge! She might have had a small point if it'd been the same....

"I'm also a little uncomfortable with the proposed change in the law, assuming she's reporting it accurately."

She is. I've been following it on 'CiF' for a while, and it's one of Harperson's (and Vera Baird, her partner in crime) worst ideas. And that's a strong field!

"...what are you going to do? Not like giving up and dispensing with juries altogether is an option, is it?"

They'll be suggesting that for rape cases too, before long!

"...these days, sanity is in short supply in the public sphere."

Sadly, all too true...

blueknight said...

It is all too easy to claim that the murdered partner was abusive. After all he/she cannot give her side of the story.
Paedophiles often claim that they were abused as children and this is usually unprovable as well.

JuliaM said...

"It is all too easy to claim that the murdered partner was abusive. After all he/she cannot give her side of the story."

Indeed. Dead men (and women) tell no tales...