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48 U. Toronto Fac. L. Rev. 229 (1990)
Discerning Justice for Battered Women Who Kill

handle is hein.journals/utflr48 and id is 235 raw text is: Discerning Justice for Battered
Women who Kill
JACQUELINE R. CASTEL
The judicial system has traditionally assumed that women who kill their spouses
are either legally insane or dangerous criminal offenders. However, the social
science literature on spousal homicide reveals that women who kill their spouses
are generally battered women who are acting in self-defense. The author finds that
the legal requirements for invoking a successful self-defense plea discriminate
against battered women who kill their spouses. These requirements are based on
the experiences of the reasonable man and do not contemplate acts of self-
defense by battered women which are reasonable, although different from men's.
The author considers both the constitutionality of the current doctrine of self-
defense under sections 7, 15 and 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and the types of legal reform and trial strategies which may be helpful
in overcoming sex-discrimination in the law of self-defense.
Le systme judiciaire a traditionellement comme principe que les femmes qui
assassinent leur mar sont soit dimentes aux yeux de la loi, ou soit de dangereuses
criminelles. Pourtant la documentation en science sociale sur les homicides entre
ipoux revile que les femmes qui assassinent leur jpoux sont en gingral des
femmes battues qui n'agissaient qu'en ldgitime difense. L'auteur conclut que les
conditions juridiques du recours au plaidoyer de ldgitime difense crient de la
discrimination contre les femmes qui assassinent leur marl. Ces conditions ont
comme critre l'homme raisonnable et excluent les actes posis par des femmes
battues en ligitime difense - des femmes pourtant raisonnables, bien que diffiren-
tes des hommes. L'auteur examine la constitutionaliti de la doctrine actuelle sur la
ligitime difense privue aux articles 7, 15 et 28 de la Charte des droits et libertis.
Elle itudie aussi les possibilitis de rdformes legislatives et les stratigies qui lors
d'un proces pourraient aider i) contrer la discrimination sexuelle dans la loi sur la
ligitime ddfense.

University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review / Volume 48, Spring, 1990

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