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Contents:
  1. More titles to consider
  2. Female Criminality - Annie Cossins - Bok () | Bokus
  3. Female Violent Offenders: Moral Panics or More Serious Offenders?
  4. Crimes and offenses

As a result of this Taskforce, a number of legislative changes were made to the substantive criminal law as well as procedural laws concerning the conduct of sexual assault trials in NSW. As a result of her written report, the Premier of NSW recently announced the establishment of a pilot specialist sex offences court for NSW. Several of her recommendations were adopted in the report.

More titles to consider

Cossins A, , 'The future of joint trials of sex offences after Hughes: resolving judicial fears and jurisdictional tensions with evidence-based decision-making', Melbourne University Law Review , vol. Cossins AI; Goodman-Delahunty J; O'brien , , 'Uncertainty and misconceptions about child sexual abuse: implications for the criminal justice system', Psychiatry, Psychology and Law , vol. Cossins AI, , 'Cross-examination in child sexual assault trials: evidentiary sfaeguard or an opportunity to confuse? Cossins AI, , 'Children, sexual abuse and suggestibility: What laypeople think they know and what the literature tells us', Psychiatry, Psychology and Law , vol.

Cossins AI, , 'Revising open government: developments in shifting the boundaries of government secrecy under public interest immunity and freedom of infromation law', Federal Law Review , pp. Original, Wiley-Blackwell, New York, pp. Cossins AI, , 'Tipping the scales in her favour: The need to protect counselling records in sexual assult trials', in Easteal P ed. Original, Federation Press, Sydney, pp. Our Our programs programs. International International opportunities opportunities. For example, it has been alleged that fathers are generally punished more severely than mothers.

This might be because gender stereotypes and cultural images of women produce responses which affect public sympathy and attitudes when women kill their offspring. Hence, one of the commonly held assumptions was that women were not criminals and that any illegal activities on their part was, therefore, pathological. Neonaticide stories become even more patt erned when they draw to a close [3]. When they finally go into labor, the overwhelming majority of these young women mistakenly believe that they need to defecate.

They spend hours alone, on a toilet, laboring silently.

That they are able to endure labor in silence is shocking, given that birth typically is a noisy process. The fact that they are able to pass hours uninterrupted in the bathroom, when, more often than not, family members are in the house with them, underscores the extent to which these girls are emotionally and physically isolated from those who ostensibly should be their support system.

Once their babies are born, most of these young women behave in a manner that demonstrates their exhaustion, panic, and again, their denial. Amazingly, in view of the long months of a pregnancy, those who commit neonaticide seldom are prepared for contending with labor, delivery, and their newborn [3]. Instead, the young women behave impulsively, typically worrying first about being discovered.

Rather than pulling the baby out of the toilet, many of them leave the baby to drown while they attempt to clean up the blood and tissue that accompanies childbirth. Others suffocate or strangle their newborns moments after birth, in an effort to silence them. Neonaticide, a crime almost exclusively committed by the biological mother, occurs throughout the world and seems to be one of the least preventable crimes [4].


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The majority of newborns are killed by smothering, strangling, head trauma, drowning, or neglect. In most cases, the scene where the dead neonate is found is not consistent with the scene of delivery, and a broad variety of methods of disposal can be observed. Issues that have to be addressed by the forensic pathologist during autopsy include i estimating the gestational age and physical maturity of a neonate; ii determining whether there are indications of live birth or stillbirth; iii answering the question as to whether the child was viable and able to survive, and if so for how long; iv documenting lethal and nonlethal injuries as well as underlying potentially lethal organic diseases; v helping to establish the identity of the mother; and vi determining cause, mechanism, and manner of death if possible.

Where a woman by any wilful act or omission causes the death of her child being a child under the age of twelve months, but at the time of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child, then, if the circumstances were such that but the offence would have amounted to murder or manslaughter, she shall be guilty of [an offence], to wit of infanticide, and may for such offence be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of the child [5].

The essence of the offence, then, is a voluntary killing of a child under the age of one year by its mother [6]. It is a noteworthy example of how doctrine is constructed out of a view taken on a matter of sentencing. It had long been recognised that the death penalty was inappropriate for mothers who killed their children in the few months after childbirth. Hormonal changes after birth commonly result in temporary depression which may become clinical depression. In severe cases this may lead to the mother killing the child. First, it seems clear that relatively few such killings result from mental imbalance resulting from lactation or the fact of having given birth.

Considerations such as the frustrations of coping with an inconsolable child, particularly in conditions of poverty and limited space, are more conducive to such a response. Yet despite this the vast majority of infant killings by mothers are treated as infanticides or lesser offences rather than murder. It has been concluded that infanticide is used in practice as a means of ensuring leniency of treatment to mothers who kill their very young children, whether there are cogent medical grounds for doing so or not.

In this sense infanticide is a less onerous defence to murder than is diminished responsibility. The failure to recommend extension of the coverage of infanticide to male parents may be considered odd, given that environmental stresses are now recognised as a serious determinant of infant killings [6]. It has been concluded that this failure is representative of an invidious tendency to show mercy only to female killers of their children.

This not only potentially demeans women but may be unfair to men suffering comparable stress. This tendency may itself derive from untenable assumptions. Male killers are more likely to be perceived as wicked, and mothers as victims of circumstances even though the circumstances of the killing are broadly comparable.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, however, it is arguable that mercy and compassion are proper objects of the criminal law given the wealth of evidence concerning the stresses of childbirth and the early period of child-rearing. Opening up the defence to fathers and mothers of children above twelve months would leave one questioning the logic of restricting the defence only to natural parents.

Female Criminality - Annie Cossins - Bok () | Bokus

If it is thought bad public policy to open up the defence so as to potentially loosen the demands of self-control in the population at large, it may nevertheless be right to afford the defence to those mothers socially and congenitally most in need of it. Infanticide cases presented some unusual challenges for investigators [7].

The proceedings were usually initiated by the discovery of a dead newborn. Investigators had to locate the mother so she could be questioned about the incident, and they also had to determine that the newborn had indeed died as a result of violence and not of natural causes. Both of these steps involved the expert testimony of a physician.

Female Violent Offenders: Moral Panics or More Serious Offenders?

Women were examined for evidence of recent pregnancy and delivery such as vulvar swelling, cervical dilatation, uterine enlargement, lochia, darkened areolae, and lactation. Determination of live birth was based largely on an examination of the lungs.

The Crowd, A Study of The Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon

Cultural mores, economic development, and technical-medical progress have created communities that can provide more favorable and nurturing environments for families [2]. Yet the problem of child homicide remains, though on a smaller scale than in the past. They have gained the vote, and, in general, have access to more control of their reproductive functions. Young people enjoy more freedom from adult supervision, have greater economic opportunities, and have a far longer adolescence than formerly. The rising divorce rate and the earlier physical maturation of youngsters have abetted earlier sexual activity.

The pressure to engage in sexual intercourse is substantial. This has led to a dramatic increase in teenage pregnancy which has just begun to slide in the past few years. What are the salient characteristics of homicidal mothers? They differ in socio-economic background, community, and education [2]. But though different in these instances, they do possess other similarities.

The women are usually young and single. The majority of them live with parents, guardians, or relatives. They are often, but not always, poor. Most are not married or do not have committed relationships. They keep themselves isolated and are unwilling to admit even to themselves that they are pregnant.

Crimes and offenses

Yet the studies both in the past and present indicate that while the actions neonaticide or infanticide are similar in behavior, psychological and environmental circumstances vary widely. When a mother kills, it challenges cultural and biological conceptions of women and motherhood [8]. Since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, deviant, unnatural women have been the subject of intense media focus.

Salient warnings about the evil power of women are found in fairy stories and folk tales about jealous stepmothers and wicked witches.