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Guest Lecture: Professor Susan Edwards

Northumbria University

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Guest Lecture: Professor Susan Edwards, Professor of Law

Working Title: Loss of self-control manslaughter from men’s anger and men’s killing method in body force and strangulation to women fear and women preservation in resort to weapons 

Business and Law Building, City Campus East, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne - Lecture Theatre 401

Refreshments will be served from 6pm

Synopsis

The emotion of fear has occupied a marginalised place within the emotional currency of both offences and defences to crime.

Anger, by contrast, has held a privileged position and under certain prescribed circumstances has been accepted as an excuse for killing another under certain prescribed circumstances.

Men, historically have been given permission in culture and in law to express, often without restraint. Feelings of anger, and cultural constructions of gender have required women to control such emotion. When women kill, albeit infrequently, they do so not because of anger but because of fear. Fear, however, has not been recognised as sufficiently compelling to warrant the status accorded to anger as an excuse for killing. It is now well recognised that manslaughter loss of self-control in being founded on what men are given permission to do i.e. become angry privileges male conduct. In 2009 the law reformulated loss of self-control manslaughter by restricting the angry defence removing the permission for anger following sexual infidelity, whilst also recognising the impact of the emotion of fear on self-defensive conduct. In addressing these two anomalies within the law the legislators retained the requirement of loss of self-control - the heartbeat of the concession to mens rea. Loss of self-control however derives from an understanding of anger supported by specific verbalisations and outward gestures. We are yet to build a lexicon and a set of behavioural responses with which fear can be better understood. Fear loss of self-control then sits awkwardly within this framework since  fear may manifest in inertia, despair, crumbling, hopelessness, where killing becomes a desperate last act of survival, where the ‘victim defendant’ pleads with the aggressor, begs and implores. Consequently, women relying on fear may have difficulties in persuading jurors that they have lost control in the normative legal sense. Introducing the emotion of fear into the framework of defences is part of what is needed but the project is incomplete and women in fear may find themselves outside the ambit of a manslaughter defence.

There are other matters that the law needs to consider outside women's defensive action. In this regard the law continues the legacy of minimising male violence which privileges physical force such that threats, intimidation, control are insufficiently understood. The habituated use of attempted strangulation by men to coerce, intimidate, frighten and control requires urgent legislative action. Always threatening, frightening, immobilising and sometimes lethal, every day and legal understanding continues to underestimate the seriousness of this form of assault.  At the same time the frightened weaker woman who resorts to the use of a weapon to save her life has difficulty in persuading that her response is not a considered desire for revenge nor intended. Addressing non-fatal strangulation  is the next project which requires a concerted effort in changing public perception, policing, prosecution and reform of legislation.

About the Speaker

Susan Edwards is a Professor of Law, barrister/human rights lawyer, feminist legal scholar and activist. She is a member of Stop the War Coalition, Amnesty International, Peace and Progress, the Bar Human Rights Committee and has worked with many  NGO organisations worldwide, including USA (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women), in Europe - Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation ,Africa and the Middle East and  has lectured internationally. She is known for her book Sex and Gender in the Legal Process. She has tirelessly campaigned for reform on homicide and written extensively on gender, race, sexual offences, human rights, crime, etc., sole authoring over 200 articles and several books. Her book Women on Trial was nominated for the American Criminological Association prize. More recently publishing “The strangulation of Female  Partners” Criminal Law Review 2015, 12, 949-966, and “Coercion and compulsion – re-imagining crimes and defences”, Criminal Law Review 2016, 12, 876-899, as well as numerous writings on the niqab and hijab, on counter terrorist laws and the challenge to human rights. She is a Speaker on “Islam and Feminism” Maslaha.

She has practiced in criminal and civil cases in England and Wales, is an Expert Witness and has given expert opinion in cases involving domestic violence and the niqab in court. A regular contributor to Sky News (April 2nd 2018 Interviewed on Alison Saunders DPP stepping down and non-disclosure and funding) and on Dec 16th 2017 on Rape non-disclosure, and on International Women’s Day for The Debate, Sky News, 8 March 2016 and Sky news with Luke Gittos on “Consent classes”.

She was a Contributor on Clive Anderson BBC Radio 4 - Unreliable Evidence on Violence September 7th 2016 and speaker at the Battle of Ideas 2015 on “Rape Culture: Myth or Menace”.

 

To book a space, please complete the form below, for queries email nu.events@northumbria.ac.uk

Event Details

Northumbria University
City Campus East
Business and Law Building, Lecture Theatre 401
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 2SU


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