CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Killean on Criminalization of Domestic Abuse

Rachel Killean (Queen's University Belfast School of Law) has posted ‘A Leap Forward’? Critiquing the Criminalization of Domestic Abuse in Northern Ireland on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Following in the footsteps of other jurisdictions across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is currently taking steps to criminalise ‘domestic abuse’. The proposed offence is strongly influenced by research into ‘coercive control’ a framing popularised by Evan Stark that captures both physical and non-physical forms of abuse. In this article, I introduce the Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill, before analysing its likely impacts on victim-survivors. To do so, I draw from three key critiques of criminalisation that have emerged from both reformist and anti-carceral feminist scholarship. First, that implementation will pose practical challenges; second, that criminalisation will result in a range of unintended harms; and third, that criminalisation alone is an ineffective response to domestic abuse. In light of these critiques, I argue for a more holistic response, which considers the underlying social structures and dynamics that contextualise the phenomenon of domestic abuse.

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