In this article, the author examines the socio-legal relevance of the « battered woman syndrome » (BWS) in the cases of women who kill their violent partners in Canada. The legal recognition of domestic violence in these situations, in its historical context, is examined by focusing on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the case of Angélique Lyn Lavallée in 1990. This landmark decison is used as pivotal in this discussion in order to shed light into the reasoning behind the subsequent legal decisions. The ideas proposed in this article are part of a more general exploration of the representations of femininity and their inscription in law. In discussing female conjugal homicide, the gendered nature of law and order, the pathologization of women, the « syndromisation» phenomenon and the médicalisation of violence, the author offers some insights in thinking legal strategies but more fundamentally in the social debate to continue.
Between 1867 and 1976, when the death penalty was abolished in Canada, sixteen women faced the death penalty in Québec for their crime. Five of them found guilty for murdering their husband. In a period where women had a specific role of spouse and mother, the murder of the husband was seen as the worst crime possible because it was seen as a transgression of their roles as women, wife and mother. This article examines the discourses of the judges and prosecutors in the trials of Québec women accused of killing their husbands. The authors tried to find common themes between these trials and clues that could explain why out of the five women executed in the recent history of Québec, four of them were for the same reason, because they had kill their husbands.
Two Statistics Canada data sources provide case information on violence against Canadian wives : the "Homicide Survey", an archive of all homicides known to police since 1974, and the 1993 national telephone "Violence against Women Survey". When combined with population-at-large information, these sources illuminate risk patterns for lethal and nonlethal violence, which are similar in most, but not all, particuliars. Rates of both lethal and nonlethal violence against wives vary in relation to age, registered versus common law status, separation, and autonomy-limitating behaviour by the husband. These risk patterns are discussed in relation to factors affecting the intensity of male sexual proprietariness. Risk patterns in Quebec parallel those for Canada as a whole in most, but not all, particulars.
In this article, we will focus on the frequency and characteristics of conjugal homicides which occurred in Montréal between 1954 and 1962, and compare these crimes with those taking place between 1985 and 1989. The comparison of the main aspects of the phenomenon shows that the number of such crimes has increased steadily from one period to the next. During these two periods, women formed the majority of the victims and men, the perpetrators. The individual factors (mental illness, alcohol, despair) that may trigger the expression of violence do not account for all homicides. In fact, these crimes are often the ultimate demonstration of the control some men have over their wives. We will examine the social implications lying at the root of some men's desire to control their wives to the point of killing them when they fail to meet their expectations.
Canadian law provides many excuses for men who commit crimes of violence against women; this article analyses the defence of provocation, in light of the Common Law's historical bias in favour of male domination and of the current judicial treatment of conjugal femicide. The statutory defence of provocation partially excuses murder committed in a fit of anger, if the accused lost his self-control and if the legal authority is of the opinion that an "ordinary man", in the same circumstances, would also have been provoked by the victim to the point of losing his self-control and killing his spouse. Past and present case-law indicates that a threat to a man's right to sexually appropriate a woman is the paradigmatic foundation of this defence in cases of conjugal femicide. The plausibility of the "crime of passion" scenario is supported by popular culture and and by interpretative techniques that decontextualize the crime and render it susceptible to mythologization. The idea that men who commit crimes of violence against women "lose control" of themselves is a myth that has been debunked by social science research, but that lives on in the imagination of the legal profession. But why should we excuse crimes committed by men in anger, on a morbid desire to control "their" woman, but refuse to acknowledge the person who killed out of fear, or compassion ?
In Canada, the total amount of accusations, in compliance with the laws on drugs, show a slight but constant progression. More than half of the sentences for drug-linked offenses have lead to incarceration, a third of the people sentenced for a simple drug possession have been jailed. The relevance of these sentences, making the Canadian detention centres populated with more drug addicts than the rehabilitation centres, is questionable.
In France, legislation is mostly based on the December 31st, 1970 law: drug use and trafficking are severely punished. However, for a first arrest, the prosecutor can enjoin the arrestee to treatment: this is what is called therapeutic injunction. Even though therapeutic injunction spares substance users from a jail term, some limitations are encountered this measure is selective, based on social and judicial criteria, making it more forgiving than the average characteristics of drug addicts, it is only accepted and applied by half of the subjects. A specific inquiry has been done in a department in the Paris region, where drug addiction activity is abundant, and suggested a preventive role for the injunction in cases of recidivism. Global appreciation of the therapeutic injunction remains nuanced in a context of new measures in drug addiction, but it translates into the increasing necessity to introduce professional networks between the judicial and sanitary systems, intended for a young population dealing with the modern difficulties of social adaptation and high risk behaviour.
Anglo-Saxon studies on professional socialization of police officers have proven that the socialization process can be broken down into many steps, the major one being schooling. The results of all these studies have also demonstrated that the existence of specific cultural characteristics in the police profession influence and model new recruits. Recent French studies, with more quantitative methods, confirmed some of these results, but show many nuances and insist on the diversity in attitudes and expectations on the part of police students. It is namely the case with the year of training for constables.