I was alerted by a tweet by @leisasmith2 to an article in The Age today – despite a 2005 ruling that provocation can not be used as a defense against a murder charge, the practice is still alive and well in Victoria, unlike its victims.

The article, by John Elder, concludes

In August 2010, following this case, the Victorian Justice Department began a review of defensive homicide, but this has stalled since the Baillieu government took power.

As the recent response by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott demonstrates, the Liberal Party as a whole has a problem (real or perceived) of being at best unsympathetic toward women and women’s issues, at worst actively misogynistic. A significant amount of the force of this position has been the persistent, pervasive abuse directed by conservative politicians and their supporters toward the Prime Minister – while Australian politics has a history of robust invective, this  is rarely as personal and gendered as that received by Ms Gillard and her female MPs.

However, I believe this is a manifestation of a systemic position, driven by the right – here and internationally. Sheri S Tepper’s flawed but fascinating novel Gibbon’s Decline and Fall describes a litany of growing conservative anti-female sentiment. That women are still fighting many of the same battles we were half a century ago (equal pay for equal work, and equal representation for a start) is profoundly disheartening.

And a  little tangential – perhaps a post for another time. The point is that the Liberal Party has a shrinking female base, across the board. Here’s one thing Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu could do to demonstrate that he, at least, has respect for women – decisive action on one manifestation of domestic violence: completing the review of defensive homicide as a defence, with follow-up of judges who tool this into consideration despite the 2005 ruling, an a clear statement that this is not acceptable, tolerated nor legal.

Even better: improved funding of and support for services, and a campaign reminding people that men are victims of domestic violence too – the gendered view of domestic violence as a predominantly female issue means research doesn’t look at male victims, despite consistent figures that between 1/3 and 2/5ths of domestic violence victims are male, making these men invisible as well as abused.

Implementing these last measures wouldn’t be cheap, particularly increasing support services. But completing a review? Closing a loop-hole that allows some spousal murderers to get significantly reduced sentences? That’s important, cost-effective, and could help sway public opinion.

Not my ideal outcome, as this blog makes clear, but I can offer suggestions to the Right if the cause is great, and this one is. 783 days, Mr Baillieu…

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