ABSTRACT

The doctrine of the partial defence of provocation is one of the most controversial doctrines in the criminal law. Over the past 20 years, feminist scholars in almost all Western criminal jurisdictions have virtually been in agreement that the partial defence has historically operated, and in some jurisdictions continues to operate, as a profoundly sexed excuse for male anger and violence towards women that allows them to avoid a conviction for murder (Edwards 1987; Allen 1987; Horder 1989, 1992a; Coker 1992; Howe 1994; Bandalli 1995; Morgan 1997).1 Feminists writing in Australia (Greene 1989; Tarrant 1990; Tolmie 1991; Stubbs 1992; Easteal 1993a; Stubbs and Tolmie 1994, 1995; Hubble 1997; Tolmie 1997; Easteal 2001; Bradfield 2002; Tolmie 2002; Stubbs and Tolmie 2005), England (Radford 1984; Edwards 1987; Radford and Russell 1992; McColgan 1993, 2000; Wells 1994; Carline 2005) and North America (Schneider 1980; Taylor 1986; Castel 1990; Maguigan 1991; O'Donovan 1991; Sheehy et al 1992; Sheehy 1994, 2001; Baker 1998; Maguigan 1998; Schneider 2000) have largely remained preoccupied with the ways in which the law of murder operates in relation to the practical availability of the defences to homicide (self-defence and provocation) for battered women who kill their violent abusers.