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Women, violent crime and criminal justice in Georgian Wales

  • KATHERINE D. WATSON (a1)
Abstract

This article examines encounters of women with the criminal justice system in Wales during the century before the Courts of Great Sessions were abolished in 1830. Drawing on evidence from cases of sexual assault and homicide, it argues that women who killed were rarely convicted or punished harshly. A gendered discretion of sorts also acted against rape victims, as trials never resulted in conviction. Using violence as a lens, the paper reveals a distinctively Welsh approach to criminal justice, and offers quantitative evidence on which further comparative studies of the history of law and crime in England and Wales may be based.

Les femmes, les crimes violents et la justice pénale au Pays de Galles à l'époque georgienne

Cet article examine les démêlées que des femmes ont pu avoir avec la justice pénale au Pays de Galles avant l'abolition, en 1830, de la Cour des Grandes Sessions. Etudiant les cas d'agressions sexuelles et d'homicides, l'auteur soutient que les femmes agressées qui avaient donné la mort dans ces circonstances ont rarement été condamnées ou punies sévèrement. Mais le sort des femmes victimes de viols était traité aussi avec une telle discrétion que les agresseurs n'étaient jamais condamnés non plus. En utilisant la violence comme lentille d'approche, l'article révèle un traitement typiquement gallois de la justice pénale, et propose des données quantitatives sur lesquelles pourraient se construire de futures études comparatives en histoire du droit et de la criminalité en Angleterre et au Pays de Galles.

Frauen, Gewaltverbrechen und Strafjustiz im georgianischen Wales

Dieser Beitrag untersucht die Begegnungen von Frauen mit dem System der Strafjustiz in Wales im letzten Jahrhundert vor der Abschaffung des Großen Strafgerichtshofes (Court of Great Sessions) im Jahre 1830. Er greift auf Fälle sexueller Gewalt und auf Tötungsdelikte zurück und vertritt die These, dass Frauen, die jemanden töteten, selten verurteilt oder hart bestraft wurden. Eine Art geschlechtsspezifischer Ermessensvorgabe wirkte sich auch gegenüber Vergewaltigungsopfern aus, deren Verfahren niemals zu einer Verurteilung führten. Durch die Verwendung der Gewalt als Brennglas erhellt der Beitrag einen spezifisch walisischen Ansatz der Strafjustiz und bietet darüber hinaus quantitative Befunde, die sich für weitere vergleichende Studien zur Geschichte des Rechts und der Kriminalität in England und Wales als instruktiv erweisen mögen.

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The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution licence <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/>.
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Dafydd Jenkins , ‘The medieval Welsh idea of law’, Legal History Review 49, 3–4 (1981), 323–48

Antony E. Simpson , ‘The “blackmail myth” and the prosecution of rape and its attempt in 18th century London: the creation of a legal tradition’, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 77 (1986), 101–50

Laurie Edelstein , ‘An accusation easily to be made? Rape and malicious prosecution in eighteenth-century England’, American Journal of Legal History 42, 4 (1998), 351–90

Garthine Walker , ‘Rereading rape and sexual violence in early modern England’, Gender and History 10, 1 (1998), 125

Gregory Durston , ‘Rape in the eighteenth-century metropolis: part 1’, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 28, 2 (2005), 167–79

Gregory Durston , ‘Rape in the eighteenth-century metropolis: part 2’, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 29, 1 (2006), 1531

M. Beattie , ‘The criminality of women in eighteenth-century England’, Journal of Social History 8, 4 (1975), 80116

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Continuity and Change
  • ISSN: 0268-4160
  • EISSN: 1469-218X
  • URL: /core/journals/continuity-and-change
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