The law and domestic violence against women : the history of law reforms in relation to domestic violence against women from the 18th to the 20th century and an analysis of women victims' needs in contemporary socio-legal discourse
The thesis is divided into two parts, Part I contains four chapters which map the pattern of legal changes relating to domestic violence against women from the 18th century to the 1980s. The history is written from the viewpoint of the legal interventions available to and used by women victims of domestic violence. Statutory enactments, case law and procedural changes in the relevant areas of criminal, family (ecclesiastical) and welfare law are described. Throughout Part I the discussion of the remedies available and reforms implemented is supplemented by the inclusion of case examples and statistical evidence showing local and national patterns of use. Chapter 1 describes the period from the start of the 18th century to the begining of the 20th; Chapter 2,1900 to the 1960s, Chapter 3 from 1969 to 1977 and Chapter 4 the more recent history in the 10 years between 1977 to 1987. Part II contains five chapters and is based upon an analysis of women victim's needs in contemporary socio-legal discourse. Part II grew out of a concern about the part played by the law in the secondary assault of women. The main aim of the discussion is to look at how women victims' self defined needs inform the practice of the law and how the legal approach contributes to the creation of violent relations between men and women in the social institution of heterosexuality. Part II emphasises the use of written and spoken language in interactional settings to define women's needs. The discussion is based upon the analysis of: 1. a survey of women involved in 54 legal cases concerning their partners' behaviour supplemented by interviews with legal advisors; 2. case records obtained from solicitors' offices with the womens' permission; 3. over 300 decisions traced from the published Law Reports; 4.105 press reports of cases of domestic violence against women. Chapter 5 describes the method employed in the research for Part II. Chapter 6 contains the analysis of the women's cases; Chapter 7 the reported decisions and Chapter 8 the press reports. Chapter 9 offers a summary of academic discourse and the abuse of women as well as a concluding discussion on some possibilities for the empowerment of women in law.