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NCJ Number: 200671 Find in a Library
Title: Masculinities, Intimate Femicide and the Death Penalty in Australia, 1890-1920
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:43  Issue:2  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:310-339
Author(s): Carolyn Strange
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article discusses the ways in which hierarchies of masculinity are delineated based on the prosecution and punishment of femicide in New South Wales, Australia.
Abstract: Historically the criminal justice system has been inadequate in protecting women from lethal domestic violence. It is important to study the historical relationship between gender and violence in Australia, a county with a strong masculine national image. In New South Wales murder and attempted murder carried a mandatory death penalty until 1955. This article focuses on femicide and attempted femicide from 1890 to 1920, noting that politicians on New South Wales’s Executive Council were not obliged, historically, to explain why they decided to commute death sentences or to allow them to stand. Following a description of New South Wales at the turn of the century, the author suggests that gender distinctions were drawn no less rigidly than were racial and class differences. A man convicted of murder or attempted murder could not be sentenced at a judge’s discretion but was sentenced to death automatically. Loveless and luckless husbands traditionally struck sympathetic poses with jurors and judges even when their crimes were premeditated or particularly violent. Following a discussion of pathetic husbands, wanton women, cuckolds, spurned suitors, blameless women, cold-hearted brutes, menaces to society, and gender conflicted individuals, the author argues that during the conviction and post-conviction phases of most femicide cases held between 1890 to 1920, men fought for their lives before male peers and judges, while jurors were aware that convictions automatically meant a death sentence for the accused males. While there is evidence of men’s historic capacity to punish intimate femicidal acts severely, a masculine censure against male violence needs to be further developed in New South Wales. References
Main Term(s): Femicide; History of criminal justice
Index Term(s): Australia; Domestic assault; New South Wales; Violent crimes
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