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Title: Trial outcomes in child death cases : influenced by mothering myths?
Author: Orr, N. G. F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 2163
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis draws on the insights of rape myth scholarship and also critical responses to battered women who kill to argue that trial outcomes in child death cases may have been influenced by mothering myths. It argues that in order to understand the reasons for wrongful convictions in such cases, we must look beyond the issue of flawed expert evidence, namely to possibly stereotypical interpretations of maternal behaviours around the time the children died. Notwithstanding the difficulties in reading across from rape trials to child death cases, and that both rape myth acceptance research and the carceral approach have been challenged, Gerger et al’s definition of a rape myth is adapted here to theorise a mothering myth. Child death cases are interrogated to identify evidence admitted of maternal behaviours, and using the theorisation of a mothering myth, this thesis suggests that if fixed beliefs were used to interpret maternal behaviours, biased inferences may have been made. Little evidence of the probative value of such material has been identified. This thesis therefore examines why evidence of maternal behaviour was admitted and whether mothering myths may have informed aspects of child death cases including admissibility, the absence of judicial directions and jury deliberations. Options to limit the extent to which juries in future child death cases can rely on mothering myths are considered, and proposals for new judicial directions are made. A roadmap of empirical research is proposed to test the suggested analogies between rape myths and mothering myths, drawing on the methodological insights of rape myth work.
Supervisor: Gurnham, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available