The Defence of Provocation: Stop Excusing Violence Against Women

Historically the criminal law system has justified and condoned male violence against women. It allowed a man to use “reasonable” force to ensure the respect and obedience of his spouse; it immunized husbands from prosecution for rape of their wives; it did not sanction the rape of “bad girls;” and it ignored most forms of child abuse. Our law did not even recognize the existence of sexual harassment until the mid-eighties, and the use of professional and religious power to sexually exploit subordinates has only recently been acknowledged and condemned by our justice system.

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