Blog #2- What problems do women face when using the BWS defence in Canadian courts?

Hi everyone! 

In this post, I will explain my project plan:

My inquiry question is: What are the problems faced by women when using the BWS Defence in Canadian Courts? 

Round of research 1:

I will introduce the BWS defence and some basic concepts of law. I think this is necessary to make my further posts understandable.  In addition, I will research about the history of the defence. Some of the questions I will answer will be: 

  • What is BWS?
  • What is the BWS defence? 
  • How, when and why was it created?

Round of research 2:  

In this round, I will research on the challenges faced in judgement of the defence. The main focus will be on the difficulties of interpreting BWS cases. I will analyse interpretations and procedures taken in legal cases involving battered women in Canada and the laws behind it. 

I will base my research on these questions: 

  • How did the laws behind it change to adapt to the realities of battered women?
  • How do the laws of self-defence difficult the use of the BWS defence? 
  • How does the rule of use “excessive force” applied in these cases? 
  • How does the relationship between the accused and the victim difficult the interpretation defences?

Round of research 3: 

The focus of this last post on the battered women that choose to not use this defence. I will research on the main three problems that make women hesitant to use the defence. 

The basic questions for it will be: 

  • Why do women plead guilty to lower charges instead of defending themselves?
  • How does the “25 minimum sentence” increase the skepticism in use of the defence?   

   Here are five useful references for my research: 

  1. Dawson, T. (2021, August 13). Why “battered woman syndrome” is not a straightforward defence for women who kill. Nationalpost. 
  2. Glancy, G., Heintzman, M., & Wheeler, A. (2019). Battered woman syndrome: Updating the expert checklist. International Journal of Risk and Recovery. 
  3. Shaffer, M. (1990). R. v. Lavallee: A Review Essay. The Ottawa Law Review. 
  4. Sheehy, E. A. (2013). Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the Transcripts (Law and Society) (3rd ed.). UBC Press. 
  5. The Canadian Press. (2021, May 3). Manslaughter conviction upheld for Alberta woman who said she acted in self-defence. Global News.

This project will allow Canadians to understand the problems or issues to be reviewed in our justice system. I hope it will encourage some to take action and demand change to improve them.

Sofia B.

One Reply to “Blog #2- What problems do women face when using the BWS defence in Canadian courts?”

  1. Hi Sofia,
    Great inquiry project! I do not know much about how do courts work but I would like to learn more about it, and because we should all be aware of it and have a better understanding of how the justice system works. In fact, I know people who think that laws and justice do not work, but others say that is just a matter of having good lawyers and knowing how to interpret laws well. Thank you for taking your time to talk about it, because it probably demands a lot of research and it can be confusing at some point.

    Some source that might help you:


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