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Women charged with violent crimes against family members in WA 1970-1980: Early constructions of the female offender

Walker, S. (1998) Women charged with violent crimes against family members in WA 1970-1980: Early constructions of the female offender. Sister in Law, 3 . pp. 75-97.

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    Abstract

    Women who commit serious violent crimes pose considerable dilemmas for the legal system. As criminals, they are perceived to require punishment. As women, it is often difficult for the court to reconcile their criminal actions with the behaviour associated with the stereotypical feminine woman. When women have killed or attempted to kill close family members, the discrepancy between a woman's actions and the behaviour expected of women in general is even more evident. Using court transcripts, this paper provides an historical examination of how explanations of women's lives and crimes were constructed in the 1970s in Western Australia. It explores how attempts were made to reconcile the violent actions of these women with stereotypical feminine roles. The effect of such constructions, both upon the way in which the woman was portrayed in court, and the sentence she received is examined. In particular, the paper considers whether portraying women in stereotypical terms minimised the punitive consequences of their actions, or whether it excluded information which not only more accurately reflected the women.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
    Publisher: Enid Russell Society, School of Law, Murdoch University
    Copyright: Enid Russell Society
    Publishers Website: http://www.murdoch.edu.au/School-of-Law
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/1864
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