IPHinLAW <br>Intimate partner homicide: challenges to the law

Intimate partner homicide: challenges to the law

June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2022
48 months

Homicides that occur in intimate relationships, commonly referred to as 'spousal homicide', have risen in recent years in Portugal. One of the highest totals recorded was in 2014, with 42 women murdered by a partner or ex-partner (OMA 2015). In the last 12 years, there have been about 400 women victims of such types of homicides and about 500 victims of attempted murder (OMA 2016). These numbers have attracted increasing interest from the media, despite reinforced efforts in the fight against domestic violence carried out through the National Plans to Combat Domestic Violence. These have included more social support measures to victims, an increasing number of awareness programmes and, above all, a strong reliance on criminal law amendments, which have increased penalties and offered more protection measures to victims after they file a complaint.
In the light of such a scenario, this project will examine the legal response - juridical and judicial - to cases of domestic violence that have ended in homicide and homicide attempts, the most extreme scenario of violence that occurs in intimate relationships.

Three lines of inquiry will be pursued in order to achieve this purpose:
1) Socio-Legal - to identify the dominant legal culture - as a result of sentences - and professional practice regarding this matter in order to identify the main obstacles and impacts on law enforcement taking into account the crucial functions of justice: to prevent, punish and repair in a dignified manner;
2) Criminological - to study so-called 'spousal homicide' in a holistic framework, meaning, the similarities and differences in homicides in general and simultaneously, in their specificities, to try and understand the diversity of situations encompassing it, and to increase criminological scientific knowledge on this phenomenon;
3) Gender - to frame the legal and judicial intervention in this particular type of criminal proceeding, starting from a criminological analysis that perceives this crime as a consequence of unequal gender relations.

These goals will be achieved through the use of quantitative (e.g. statistical analysis) and qualitative research methods (e.g. content analysis of judicial proceedings and interviews).

These methodologies will allow empirical investigation - which will go beyond mere statistical analysis (which has proved to be insufficient to understand the dynamics played by these homicides) or simple analysis of the law - in order to understand the reality of these homicides in the Portuguese context, so as to promote adequate socio-legal prevention and intervention measures.

Project results include one book, five scientific articles, a website, four regional workshops, the creation of a database from the analysis of the judicial proceedings, a training kit aimed at the judiciary, two advanced training courses for different audiences, a booklet with key recommendations and an international conference.

Ana Oliveira
Conceição Gomes
João Paulo Dias
José António Mouraz Lopes
Madalena Duarte (coord)
Sofia Jamal
Teresa Pizarro Beleza
domestic violence, crime, gender
Funding Entity
FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional funds through the COMPETE 2020 - Operacional Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), and by Portuguese funds through FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia