A socio-legal deconstruction of homicide victims and perpetrators: Israeli femicide case law

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This interpretive paper explores the ways in which criminal law is applied to femicide victims and perpetrators and how it socially constructs and legitimizes gender-based violence in the form of femicide (the killing of a woman), when applying the doctrine of provocation. In doing so the paper discusses the socio-cultural underpinnings of the criminal legal mitigation available for defendants who claim to have killed their wives while being provoked. Conceptualizing the critical deconstruction within gendered socio-cultural predispositions and ensuing criminal legal doctrine and social norms, the paper demonstrates the ways in which Israeli social norms, attitudes and beliefs towards sexual jealousy, matrimony, loss of control, morality, gender and homicide – are entangled and intertwined in the structure and function of Israeli criminal law. The paper offers a critical analysis of the underlying discriminating gendered basic assumptions that structure current Israeli application of the doctrine of provocation and the way in which such a socio-legal structure constructs the Israeli ‘unfaithful’ woman, and her corresponding ‘reasonable’, and ‘normative’, so to speak, killer. Such men are considered less morally guilty when they kill ‘unfaithful’ women, consequently awarded lenient convictions and sentences. At the same time, Israeli women are blamed for morally instigating and provoking their own killing – thus precipitating their gruesome, premature and undue death. As the Israeli criminal legal structure is deeply rooted in English common law, its substantive criminal doctrine of provocation is widely shared by many countries. In this respect the paper's exploration of Israeli criminal doctrine of provocation may provide a significant contribution to socio-legal discourse in many other countries with legal structures similarly steeped in English common law.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101391
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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