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Protectionism, Paternalism, and Women’s Agency: Intimate Partner Violence, Mandatory Charging Policies, and the Victim-Offender Overlap

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posted on 2024-03-22, 14:09 authored by Eden Hoffer

The implementation of mandatory charging policies for intimate partner violence (hereafter, IPV) in Canada in the 1980s significantly limited police officer’s discretion and required that they lay charges in cases where there were “reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an assault has taken place” (Landau, 2000, p. 142). These policies intended to offer victims of IPV some degree of protection from the justice system while signalling to the public the IPV was being taken seriously and addressed as a criminal offence (see, for example, Landau, 2000; Brown, 2002; Garner & Maxwell, 2009; Girard-Brown, 2012). However, scholars have argued that an unanticipated outcome of these policies has been the criminalization of women who have been victimized by their intimate partner, often for self-defence (Busch & Rosenberg, 2004; Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002; Miller & Meloy, 2006; Swan & Snow, 2002), which has a variety of harmful implications for victimized women. Since the implementation of mandatory charging policies, there has been an increase in the number of women who have been arrested for IPV, either solely or in tandem with their partner (Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002; Miller & Meloy, 2006). Correspondingly, scholars have argued that an incident-focussed justice system is ill-equipped to recognize sustained patterns of violence (Grace, 2019). As a result, this paper explores the ways in which mandatory charging policies and the criminalization of victimized women illustrates the justice system’s wide-scale inability to acknowledge patterns of violence or context, and thus how victimized women are being criminalized through these policies. 

History

Language

English

Degree

  • Master of Arts

Program

  • Criminology and Social Justice

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Kim Varma

Year

2021

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    Criminology and Social Justice (Theses)

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