Battered Women Essay

3861 words - 15 pages

The Battered Woman Syndrome and Criminal LawThe Battered Woman Syndrome and Criminal Law The purpose of this research paper is to prove that criminal law in America has failed to provide a defense that adequately protects women suffering from Battered Women's Syndrome. Battered Women's Syndrome, or BWS, is a very complex psychological problem facing criminal courts today and has caused great debate on whether or not it should even be allowed in the courtroom. Although the syndrome has been given more consideration as a warranted issue by society, those who create our laws and control our courtrooms, have not developed a defense that sufficiently protects these women. United States courtrooms, instead of protecting battered women, have put these women on trial and found them guilty of murder. The research is divided into four parts to better illustrate each individual topic and to provide for a more clear understanding of the material. The first analysis describes Battered Women's Syndrome and gives background information on its origin. The second part of the research affords case examples of battered women's trials, the defenses used, and the resulting verdicts. The third segment produces data on newly developed defenses and how they would help women justify or excuse their actions. The final portion of the research presents some of the different views held by supporters and critics of BWS. The conclusion of the research is based only on the data that was collected and provides some personal explanations for the problems facing battered women today. Part I: THE BIRTH OF A SYNDROME The theories and explanations for battered women's behavior started in the late 1970's as a result of the oppression of women. Feminist movements in the late 1970's caused great social uproar among legal and political bodies of government in the United States. Many social problems that women faced started to surface and the public began to notice the increasing number of battered and abused women. This new issue led Del Martin to publish Battered Wives in 1976, the first piece written about battered women in the U.S. Although the research on battered women had just begun, many American courtrooms began dealing with these relatively new cases involving women as early as 1977. The famous case of State v. Wanrow (1977), resulted in the Washington State Supreme Court declaring the need for a more gender-based self-defense test. This case led to a greater approval of battered women's issues among the public and sparked renewed interest in psychological research (Downs pg. 77). Battered Women's Syndrome, although originating in part from the oppression of women, was initially developed by psychologists to help explain the behavior of women who were exposed to frequent and continuous abuse. The most highly recognized in the field of BWS, is psychologist Dr. Lenore Walker. Walker has dedicated most of her life to studying battered women and their victimization. Using the...

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