PODCAST: Defending battered women on trial: An interview with Elizabeth Sheehy

In this episode, I speak with Elizabeth Sheehy about her new book, which looks at the cases of eleven women who are accused of killing their male partners in self-defense.

The book is called: Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons From the Transcripts, and it highlights the barriers women face leaving their abusers as well as the legal issues that face battered women on trial for murder.

Elizabeth Sheehy is Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women and the Legal Profession in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. She is a leading scholar on the legal system’s treatment of battered women in Canada.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • sporenda

    Another very interesting ITW, thanks Meghan.
    A few things struck me particularly: the right to self defense, which is sacro-saint in a number of countries, is apparently openly denied to women in courts, or at least not granted to them as generously as it is to men: another blatant double standard in the judiciary treatment of male violence on women.
    Also the fact that in courts, there are endless debates to determine if a woman if a proper battered woman or not–even if there is clear physical evidence that she is.
    A proper battered woman, like a proper victim of rape, must meat some moral and social criteria to qualify: not look too strong or articulate, not have a good job, not have a network of support, etc.
    In other words, unless you are poor, jobless, barefoot and pregnant, the court can deny you have been battered, even if you are still black and blue.
    Last thing, the very misogynistic reaction to Ms Sheehy’s book; she has been accused of endorsing the killing of violent men by their wives.
    as Ms Sheehy underlines, women are killed by men more often than the reverse (7 or 8 to 1); nevertheless, what these people are mostly worried about is that a few violent men are being killed, clearly, for these people, many innocent women and children being killed comes distant second; very revealing about who matters and who doesn’t in our so-called equal rights societies.
    Thanks to Ms Sheehy for her work.

  • stephen m

    Meghan, thank you for this interview with Elizabeth Sheehy. It is important to know how battered women using self-defense are seen by the law in Canada, good and bad facets. I also appreciate finding out what related aspects of the administration of Canadian law are in need of change.