Theories of Crime
2.Feminist Criminology/Law:The condemnable defense mechanism of “ Battered Woman Syndrome ” is founded on gendered stereotypes of incapacitated adult females. Discuss.
Domestic force and the consequence of uninterrupted domestic force against adult females is a many-sided issue. Despite the obvious physical hurts that victims sustain, victims of domestic force besides suffer psychological issues that can change well from minor anxiousness and emphasis to enfeebling mental unwellness. On juncture, victims retaliate due to the force sustained. Condemnable tribunals are now recognizing a plausible alibi of this revenge to domestic force as the ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’ . ( NRC, 2014 ) However, this is besides a controversial subject as tribunals including the attorneies, Judgess and jurymans will hold preconceived impressions of adult females and gender stereotypes and the presentation of testimony towards battered adult females. In this essay I aim to specify the Battered Woman Syndrome ( BWS ) , the ‘helpless woman’ and how BWS is founded on the stereotypes of adult females.
BWS was ab initio identified by psychologist, Lenore Walker as “a set of distinguishable psychological and behavioral symptoms that resulted from drawn-out exposure to state of affairss of confidant spouse force” ( Walker 1984 ) . Walker ( 1984 ) states that the emotional status and mentality of a beat-up adult female who has succumb to the rhythm of drawn-out spouse force is one of absolute weakness. Furthermore, Walker ( 1984 ) states that the rhythm of force is frequently determined by the degree and strength of the force. This rhythm is hence categorised in to three separate phases and are depicted below as:
Phase 1– Tension Building ( Verbal and emotional maltreatment )
Phase 2– Acute accent Battering Incident ( Physical force and heightened sense of fright for the victim )
Phase 3– Loving Contrition ( Abuser would try to convert victim of their purpose to alter )
( Craven 2003 )
BWS is a manifestation of erudite weakness which derives itself from the perceptual experience of the ‘helpless woman’ . Learned helplessness aids in explicating the battered person’s perceptual experiences of the state of affairs and why they do non fly from the maltreater. The ‘helpless woman’ syndrome was an altered theory by Walker from Martin Seligman’s theory of erudite weakness. Seligman used the theory to assist explicate how mental unwellness and subsequent exposure to inmate force were associated with depression, low ego regard and weakness. Walker ( 1984 ) utilised the base of this theory to explicate how beat-up adult females besides suffered similar mental conditions as a consequence of their battery. ( Craven 2003 )
Seligman conducted a laboratory experiment on Canis familiariss which were continually shocked. Once given the ability to fly the torture the animate beings were unable to physically get away the painful state of affairs. This helped Seligman argue that when sick persons of domestic force are given the ability to get away it is evident they develop deformed perceptual experiences of their ability to change their place. Seligman so drew the nexus between the behavior of the Canis familiariss and some side effects of depression which is a status caused by BWS.( Craven 2003 )
“Battering, like electric dazes, would, over-time, decrease a woman’s motive to react and bring forth the same sorts of cognitive, behavioral and motivational responses. In other words, a adult female who remained in a violent relationship was more likely to exhibit marks of erudite weakness that one who had ne’er been in, or had escaped a violent relationship”( WALKER 1984 )
BWS has been implemented in Criminal Court in the past 25 old ages and is being seen by more and more as a plausible alibi for dangerous revenges of force of adult females against their abusing spouse. However, this is non without its portion of unfavorable judgment and agnosticism by some. ( Schneider 2002 )
Elizabeth Schneider helped explicate the usage of BWS in the courtroom. Elizabeth believed that for a defense mechanism canvasser to use the defense mechanism of BWS for a client in a condemnable courtroom, foremost they would hold to get the better of sex-based stereotypes. The attorney will hold to understand plenty about the experiences suffered by their client to see whether her actions are sensible and in a manner that is sensitive to the jobs of gender prejudice. ( Schneider 2002 )
The Australian ( Western ) legal system has been developed around a ‘male norm in mind’ ( Schneider 2002 )
Because generic stereotypes of beat-up adult females continue through all degrees of the legal system ( Judges, Lawyers and Jury ) , Lawyers need to be critical about their ain trains of through and seek aid by experts to assist recognize gender prejudice in the jurisprudence. ( Schneider 2002 )
Magistrates, Judges and prosecuting officers should make the same. TheyMustbe cognizant of the misconceptions of adult females who have suffered at the custodies of domestic force and must remain impersonal at tests to supply a just result. ( Schneider 2002 ) For BWS to be successfully utilised in the tribunals, defense mechanism attorneies must show the undermentioned information
- History of force against the abused adult female
- Her attempts to protect herself in the yesteryear
- The mental impact of force on her
- The context in which the force occurred
( Schneider 2002 )
Even with an apprehension of BWS and its gradual credence in the condemnable courtroom, as antecedently mentioned it does hold its portion of unfavorable judgment. Schneider provinces that many testimonies provided by sick persons of BWS reinforce the, sometimes dated, attitude that tribunals have displayed towards adult females. Further to this other jobs that BWS encounters as a plausible signifier of defense mechanism include: ( Schneider 2002 )
- The issue of ‘intention to kill’ as opposed to a direct menace on a woman’s life.
- Male gendered dual criterions of rationality.
- Testimonies provided by adept informants do non hold to be accepted by the tribunals
- Unfair prejudices due to fiscal state of affairs. ( Rich adult females can afford the best psychologists to supply adept sentiment and hapless adult females can non )
- Generic stereotyping of adult females who have suffered at the custodies of domestic force.
( Schneider 2002 )
Gender stereotype is the foundation for BWS as it can reenforce the stereotyped gender functions and the position of adult females as emotional and irrational victims. With the inclusion of BWS to more and more tests, expert testimony has become an alibi for the offenses committed instead than justification. This has incited many critics of BWS believing that it reinforces gender prejudice stereotypes and adult females were excused of their behavior due to unreason. The initial guiltless construct of BWS and its usage to assist adult females explicate the experiences of a beat-up adult female and her actions of ego defense mechanism has started to lose credibleness as it gets abused and molestered in condemnable tribunal by defense mechanism. ( Wimberly 2014 )
In decision, tribunals and the people associated with the legal system/profession ; need to be cognizant of gender stereotypes with adult females as they can act upon the result of a test due to preconceived impressions. Experts and psychologists should be given the ability to supply adept grounds on the mind of the victim to derive an penetration into the beat-up woman’s mentality, yet in the same impression non supplying alibis for the defense mechanism. BWS is an excepted impression and provides a signifier of standardization for beat-up adult females to warrant violent actions, nevertheless, does non supply a blanketing alibi. The complex impression of BWS and the incapacitated adult female ( erudite weakness ) is far from perfect and does come with its ain issues and plausible defense mechanisms contradicting its relevancy.
In this essay I have discussed and explained BWS, discussed and explained ‘the helpless woman’ learned weakness and have explained how BWS is founded on the gender stereotype of adult females.
Word Count: 1,021
- ( Craven 2003 ) , Craven, Z, 2003,Battered Woman Syndrome,Australian and Domestic Violence Clearing House Topic paper
- ( Wimberly 2014 ) , Mary Helen Wimberly, Defending victims of domestic force who kill their batterers, hypertext transfer protocol: //www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/domviol/docs/Wimberly.authcheckdam.pdf
- ( Walker 1984 ) , Walker, L.E. 1984,The Battered Woman Syndrome,Springer Printing Company, New York
- ( NRC 2014 ) , National Online Resource Centre – Violence Against Women
hypertext transfer protocol: //www.vawnet.org/applied-research-papers/print-document.php? doc_id=2061
- ( Siegel 1995 ) Siegel, L 1995,Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies, 5ThursdayEdition, West Publishing Company.
- ( Schneider 2002 ) Scnheider, E, Battered adult females and feminist jurisprudence devising, Yale University Press, US