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Domestic Violence Law Reform and Women’s Experience in Court: The Implementation of ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Domestic Violence Law Reform and Women’s Experience in Court:

Chapter 1

Introduction

Feminist legal scholarship on the treatment of women as victim-witnesses and as defendants in criminal cases has highlighted the many failures of criminal law to respond adequately to women’s voices and experiences, and to comprehend the ways in which women are socially harmed. Civil remedies for violence and abuse seem to offer better possibilities: there is a lower standard of proof and the woman is the subject of her own action, rather than merely being the object of proceedings. The availability of civil remedies has, in many cases, resulted from feminist campaigns to fill the gaps in protection left by the criminal law. It has also been argued that civil actions provide scope to change public discourses and legal understandings of violence against women. Listening to women’s stories might force a revision of traditional conceptions and myths about what constitutes violence, what causes violence, and the effects of and “appropriate” reactions to violence.