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Prosecuting Domestic Abuse in England and Wales: Feminism, Neoliberalism and the Survivor's Voice

Porter, Antonia Danielle (2018) Prosecuting Domestic Abuse in England and Wales: Feminism, Neoliberalism and the Survivor's Voice. Doctor of Laws (LLD) thesis, University of Kent, University of Kent. (KAR id:71564)

Language: English
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The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) regards domestic abuse offences as 'particularly serious' and prosecutors are told that it will be rare that criminal proceedings will not be in the 'public interest'. But intimate partner abuse has not always enjoyed such prosecutorial commitment. Criminal justice responses in the past tended to reflect norms that sought to preserve the family unit and prosecutorial pursuit was consequently infrequent. Now that prosecution is invariably expected, this thesis is particularly concerned with the situation when a victim expresses her wish for its discontinuance. Using empirical research with prosecutors, the thesis explores current CPS working practices in these circumstances. It identifies a 'tenacious' CPS 'working practice' in relation to domestic abuse. Seeking to unpick some of the discourses and perspectives that may have contributed to the current commitment to prosecutions, the thesis sets the case study within the context of the women's movement and an era of neoliberalism. It identifies key values, philosophies and ideologies of the two theoretical frameworks - feminism and neoliberalism - that inform and shape the prosecutorial approach. The thesis proposes a foundation for theoretically informed prosecutorial praxis in the area of domestic abuse by reconceiving the legal subject, based on vulnerability theory, relational autonomy and the capabilities approach. Moreover, through thematic analysis of a sample of interviews with women who have experienced domestic abuse, it considers the consequences of the apparent turn to criminalisation. By uncovering women's varied and evolving legal consciousness as they encounter their abusive relationship, the thesis demonstrates the need for sensitive and nuanced prosecutorial responses on a case-by-case basis (in line with a 'survivor-defined' approach). Thus, the qualitative work identifies occasions when criminal prosecution meets women's needs, falls short or even merits abandonment thereby challenging criminal law as the pre-eminent solution to intimate partner abuse. Finally, by exposing the ways in which criminal prosecutions impact female victims of domestic abuse, the thesis reveals how criminal law and its processes can play a part in gendering subjectivities and limiting women's status.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Laws (LLD))
Thesis advisor: Ring, Sinéad
Uncontrolled keywords: Domestic Abuse/ Violence, Feminism, Neoliberalism, Prosecutions
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2019 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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