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‘Till death do us part: Judging the men who kill their intimate partners.

Fitz-Gibbon, Kate
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Australia and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2009: Conference Proceedings. Pg. 78-87.

This paper examines the construction of masculinity in judge’s sentencing remarks across seventeen cases of male
perpetrated intimate femicide sentenced between March 2005 and May 2007 in the Victorian Supreme Court. Using a
narrative analysis of sentencing transcripts it investigates how ideal understandings of hegemonic masculinity are used in
judicial decision making to condemn or sympathise with male offenders of intimate femicide. The findings illustrate the
profound influence that traditional understandings of masculinity and fatherhood still have on current sentencing practises
despite the current climate of homicide law reform both within Australia and overseas. Whilst this paper did not directly
assess the impact of recent homicide law reforms, specifically provocation, it is explicitly concerned with the continued
influence of gender norms and bias at the sentencing stage of the legal process. As such, it provides a preliminary
illustration of the key role that judges play in advocating or rejecting change within the criminal justice system, and more
broadly legitimising attitudes about male violence against women throughout society. In condoning the use of extreme
violence, in any context, judges send a message to society that such behaviour is either generally or specifically acceptable
and accommodated within a legal framework. (Authors abstract).


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