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NCJ Number: 135719 Find in a Library
Title: Lesser Crime: A Comparative Study of Legal Defenses for Men Who Kill Their Wives
Journal: Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems  Volume:24  Issue:4  Dated:(1991)  Pages:597-638
Author(s): M Spatz
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 42
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Three types of lenient legal systems are examined regarding the treatment of wife-murderers.
Abstract: In Islamic countries, men who kill their wives invoke statutory and customary law defenses to the criminal charges of killing an adulterous wife. In addition, many Islamic countries require lower compensation for female victims than for male victims. In India, there is a failure to enforce positive laws designed to protect wives as demonstrated in cases of dowry deaths in which young brides are murdered in order to remarry and obtain higher dowries. In the two western countries, Brazil and the United States, judges create defenses for men who otherwise would be unprotected by statutory law. In the latter this consists of a legitimate defense of honor acquitted men who murdered wives who had somehow offended their honor, and, in the former, this includes a cultural defense which allows judges to consider other cultures' belief systems in determining the appropriate penal treatment of immigrant defendants. Although each of the systems examined has unique cultural and historical traditions, all provide similarly lenient treatment for men who kill their wives. This analysis suggests that this leniency in sentencing indicates common attitudes about women's role in society and their worth. The international human rights community should address the problem of wife murder and work to change attitudes as well as the response of the legal systems. 268 notes
Main Term(s): Marital murder
Index Term(s): Defender systems; Human rights; International cooperation; Judicial attitudes; Public Opinion of Crime
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