Equal Consideration and Informed Imagining: Recognising and Responding to the Lived Experiences of Abused Women Who Kill

Anthony HOPKINS, Anna Carline, Patricia EASTEAL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Equality is a fundamental concern of human existence. Expressed in the principle of equality before the law it requires that those who come before the law are entitled to be treated as being of equal value and to be given 'equal consideration'. In circumstances where those who come before the law are marked by their differences, giving of equal consideration requires that difference be understood and taken into account. The identification of difference does not of itself determine the question of whether different treatment is warranted in the interests of equality. However, this article argues that understanding difference is a precondition for the promotion of true equality and that, in pursuit of understanding difference, it is necessary for us to acknowledge the limitations of our capacity to understand the lived experience of 'others' and to actively work to engage with these experiences. In the context of the criminal justice system, we offer abused women who kill as illustrative of this need, focusing upon the availability and operation of self-defence in England/Wales, Queensland and Victoria. In doing so, we consider the capacity of the law, legal process and legal actors to engage with the lived experiences of these women, highlighting the importance of 'informed imagining'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1236
Number of pages36
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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