UK To Make It Easier For Wives To Kill Husbands
Sherman Oaks, California
Under current Anglo-American laws, a man in a bad marriage can lose his home, his children, his property and his pension. The United Kingdom now wants to make it easier for a man to lose his life.
The Labour Government, acting through the Ministry of Justice, is scheduled to release a "consultation paper" which would redefine as manslaughter various acts which are currently deemed murder, the Telegraph reports.
Those who could show they were responding to a "fear of serious violence" would be punished for manslaughter and escape a mandatory life sentence, under the plans. Proof of having acted spontaneously would not be required.
The reforms, to be unveiled by the Ministry of Justice, would also allow a defence for someone who could show they killed in response to an exceptional case of abusive "words and conduct" over a long period. . . . .
According to the Ministry of Justice the reforms are an attempt to redress a centuries-old disparity in how the laws impact on men and women.
These "reforms" would certainly achieve their goal: the manslaughter laws would tip in favor of women who kill their husbands.
While the new laws probably won't create a corps of murderesses mixing glass shards into hubby's ice cream, the proposals all but guarantee that women would, as a class, be treated more leniently in spousal homocide cases than men. However neutral the statutory language, the "fear of serious violence" and abusive "words and conduct" defenses would obviously be used far more often by women than by men.
The inherent gender bias of the proposed law would be exacerbated by the fact that the English legal system does not allow plea bargaining. Prosecutors bring the highest charge they think will stick, but no higher. In practice, this will mean that female suspects who can immediately make a colorable claim of abuse will be charged at the outset with manslaughter, a massive pre-trial victory for the defense. Men would be charged with murder.
With Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government coming off a series of humiliating defeats in local and special elections, and with the Labour Party running twenty points behind the Conservatives in national opinion polls, and with Brown facing a mounting leadership challenge, a cynic might say that Brown was trying to buy women's votes at the cost of men's lives.
UPDATE: The 64-page consultation paper has been posted.