n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Battered woman syndrome : some reflections on the utility of this 'syndrome' to South African women who kill their abusers

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



This article seeks to critically examine the concept of the 'battered woman syndrome' a 'syndrome' that was coined to describe the experiences of women who live in abusive relationships. The article explores the possibility that the extensive body of knowledge that exists concerning battering and its effects cannot be adequately reflected by the term 'battered woman syndrome' and that the plight of abused women who kill their abusers would be better served by the use of social framework evidence instead. The article also articulates the South African requirements of the defences of self defence, automatism and lack of criminal capacity arising from non-pathological causes and assesses the impact if any of 'battered woman syndrome' evidence on these defences. The validity of the view that the current South African law adequately serves the needs of battered women is also investigated.

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