INDEPENDENT NEWS

FARE Condemns Gendered Excuses For Murderers

Published: Fri 20 Jul 2001 09:53 AM
Families Apart Require Equality (FARE) spokesperson Darryl Ward expressed grave concern about Justice Minister Phil Goff's support for the Law Commission's call for female murderers to be given leniency if they claim to be so-called battered women.
"We are constantly told that all perpetrators of violence should accept responsibility for their actions, yet here the Minister wants to make excuses for one gender. This is a clear attempt to politicise criminal law, using the discredited myth that it is men who are exclusively responsible for family violence.
"The danger signs are already there with a number of high profile cases where battered women's syndrome was claimed as an excuse. Convicted murderer Gaye Oakes who killed in cold blood claimed this excuse, and became a cause celebre. Yet her victim's family clearly stated that it was Oakes who was violent, and that her murdered partner was the chronic victim of her violence. Examples were described of Oakes having been seen to beat her partner in public, and that she was motivated by a rage of jealousy when she learned that he planned to escape her violent hold and to reconcile with his estranged wife. His body buried in the garden, was the outcome. Despite this, feminist groups claim to this day that she was the real victim and clamour to have this cold-blooded murderer paroled.
"The Oakes case must be taken as a clear warning of what would prevail if this bizarre new proposal from the Law Commission is adopted. Women will be able to murder their partner with little fear of reprisal because an unsubstantiated claim of domestic violence will be a valid defence. Malicious and unsubstantiated accusations of violence are already routine practice in the Family Court to leverage custody cases. Such politics, which have dominated the Family Court, are now about to contaminate the Criminal Courts.
"The public credibility of the Criminal Courts will be severely damaged by them being used for gender politics in this way, just as the public credibility of the Family Court has been called into question.
"However, given that the Criminal Courts can not hide behind the cloak of secrecy that the Family Court uses to disguise its activities, we are certain that gender biased criminal law will not be so readily tolerated by the public", Ward concluded
ENDS

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