The Defence of Provocation

Along with abolition of mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for murder and offences involving a firearm, NAWL recommends abolition of the defence of provocation.

71% of all women who are homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Men are most likely to kill when a woman leaves or attempts to end the relationship. The attack is a final assertion of control over the woman. In contrast, women are most likely to kill in response to violence by their mates.

The defence of provocation is founded on the idea that the victim has “caused” the murderer to lose his self-control. It is an obvious form of victim blaming. In the courts, any assertion of a woman’s autonomy -- her drive for independence, self-respect, and security -- may be considered as provocation of a deadly assault.

NAWL has spoken out to criticize the law’s sexist assumptions that lay the blame for male violence on female behaviour.

The Defence of Provocation: Stop Excusing Violence Against Women (April 2000)