This article discusses intimate partner homicide in Australia. While it would be primarily of interest to an Australian audience it is hoped that the information is useful to others for reference and to encourage similar articles to be written about other countries.
Increasingly a distinction is made between intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence (DV). IPV is violence that occurs between people who are married, involved in a defacto relationship or consider themselves involved romantically. Domestic violence is broader and is generally taken to mean violence between family members that live together. Jurisdictions don’t agree on the definitions and DV can sometimes include violence between family members that do not live together or people who are unrelated who do live together.
DV and IPV are very topical in Australia at the moment. The Australian federal government is running TV advertisements on domestic violence in which they tell us:
“Violence against Women. Let’s stop it at the start”.
The message from the Australian federal government is clear. They keep telling us that DV is something that men do to women and that what we need to do is modify the behaviour of young impressionable boys to fix the problem.
The truth is rather different.
The report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), entitled Domestic/family homicide in Australia shows that over a 10 year period 25% of intimate partner homicides in Australia were of men. This can be found in Table 3 of the linked report.
Most of the community is entirely unaware that such a high proportion of deaths resulting from IPV are men. If feminists know they normally respond by making one of the following two claims:
(1) The women killed the men in self defence and/or after a long period of torment at the hands of the men, also known as Battered Wife Syndrome(BWS)
Self defence involves a situation in which a person has to use force to save themselves from harm. In some cases the law excuses a person who has killed someone else as it was necessary to protect their own life.
BWS involves a woman killing her male intimate partner not when there is a need for self defence but later, often when he is asleep. Increasingly Australian courts have accepted BWS as a defence to a charge of murder or manslaughter of a woman’s male intimate partner.
The National Homicide Monitoring Program which the above report draws its data from uses the definition of homicide presented here.
In this report, the term homicide refers to a person killed (unlawfully); a homicide incident is an event in which one or more persons are killed at the same place and time. Homicide is defined by the criminal law of each Australian state and territory. As a result, varying definitions exist between states and territories in terms of its degree, culpability and intent. The definition of homicide in the NHMP reflects the operational definition used by police throughout Australia. As such, the NHMP collects data on the following incidents:
* all cases resulting in a person or persons being charged with murder or manslaughter. This excludes driving-related fatalities, except those that immediately follow a criminal event such as armed robbery or motor vehicle theft;
* all murder–suicides classed as murder by police; and
* all other deaths classed by police as homicides (including infanticides), whether or not an offender has been apprehended.
Excluded from this definition is attempted murder and violent deaths, such as industrial accidents involving criminal negligence (unless a charge of manslaughter is laid). Lawful homicide, including that by police in the course of their duties, is also excluded.
(2) Other men killed the men in gay relationships.
The standard reports generated by the AIC don’t provide a breakdown of the genders of spouses or the specific nature of their relationship in intimate partner homicides. A representative of the One in Three organisation arranged for a custom report to be generated by the AIC. The custom report does provide this information.
Table 9 in the custom report breaks down unlawful killings by gender and the nature of the relationship. Reviewing the information on men unlawfully killed as a result of IPV we find:
Woman unlawfully killed her husband: 8
Woman unlawfully killed her male defacto: 13
Woman unlawfully killed her boyfriend: 3
Woman unlawfully killed her male extramarital lover: 1
Woman unlawfully killed her ex-boyfriend: 1
Man unlawfully killed his boyfriend/male spouse: 1
In 26 of 27 cases the person who unlawfully killed the man was a woman.
The data is clear. 25% of intimate partner homicides in Australia are of men. In the overwhelming majority of cases the killer was a woman. While self-defence may be available to both men and women as a defence, BWS is apparently only available to women.
The federal and state governments in Australia can no longer ignore the reality of their own data. They must stop pushing a gendered narrative of DV and IPV.