Monday, 14 May 2012

Law’s indifference to women’s experience of violence: Colonial and contemporary Australia

an article by Sarah Ailwood, Patricia Easteal and Jessica Kennedy (School of Law, University of Canberra, Australia) published in Women’s Studies International Forum Volume 35 Issue 2 (March-April 2012)


Research suggests that despite substantial changes to domestic violence legislation since its conception in the 19th century, women’s voices continue to be muted and domestic violence continues to be invisible, to some extent, in the eyes of the law.

This paper uses the 1881 autobiography of Eliza Davies and the voices of contemporary women who speak out about their experiences to highlight the dynamics through which domestic violence becomes and remains invisible. It particularly focuses on the effects of the adversarial justice system, and its indifference to victims of violence within criminal and family law processes.

Clear parallels in the social, legal and juridical experiences of domestic violence between the mid-nineteenth century and contemporary Australia are drawn. It concludes that although many aspects of the law have changed, and clear improvements have been achieved in some areas, the procedures by which those laws are administered mean that their effectiveness to protect the victim is limited.

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