Against A Dark Background: The Prevention of Femicide Act 2023 and the Problem Of Legislating For Control

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Abstract

The plot device at the heart of Jayne Cowie’s 2022 novel After Dark is the Prevention of Femicide Act 2023, a (fictitious) piece of legislation enacted by Parliament in response to high-profile cases of gender-based violence, and implemented in order to prevent future occurrences of such crimes. The events of the novel demonstrate that this legislation proves to be flawed in several respects, not least in its failure to prevent the very crime that it was enacted to stop. In this article, I will look at the flaws evident in the legislation as depicted in the novel, and in doing so demonstrate the difficulties inherent in drafting legislation that aims to uphold the rights of one group while at the same time depriving a different group of their rights. I will highlight the formidable obstacles faced by real-world lawmakers in drafting legislation aimed at bringing about radical social change in the face of public hostility to that very change, and will ask whether it is the proper place of the legislature to attempt to effect such changes, or whether society itself ought rightly to be the vehicle for the radical change of mindset necessary to prevent crimes perpetrated by one group in society against another.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Oct 2023

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