Saturday, March 17, 2007

Provoked: Domestic Abuse

Provoked , a movie which discusses the topic of domestic abuse, is based upon the life of Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Kiranjit had an arranged marriage which turned into a marriage defined by violence and humiliation. After suffering his brutality for 10 years, she set fire to her husband one night and he died. She was charged with murder and imprisoned for life.

The trial judge declared that the violence she had suffered was "not serious" and the prosecution claimed that she had merely been "knocked about'. Because of her shame about the incidents of sexual abuse, Kiranjit could not face her family hearing about them at the trial and gave no evidence in her defence. Her plea of manslaughter due to provocation was overturned and the jury found her guilty of murder.

A key reason for the failure of Kiranjit's plea of provocation was the bias towards male behaviour in such cases. the time that had elapsed between Deepak's last attack on her and her retaliation (a few hours) was deemed to be a "cooling down" period and not a "boiling over" period as her defence suggested. Men tend to react instantaneously when provoked, whereas women cannot do so because of men's greater physical strength and size.

An appeal was granted in 1992 on the grounds that expert evidence and psychiatric reports had not been presented at the original trial. A re-trial was ordered and on September 25, 1992 Kiranjit was found guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility and sentenced to three years and four months (the time she had already served). Kiranjit was released immediately.

Provoked will be released in April 2007 in the UK, and at a later date in the US.

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