Feminism Fodder


Is provocation a good enough reason excuse to kill someone? Apparently, it can be in some cases.

A few months ago in New South Wales, an Indian national was deemed guilty of manslaughter rather than murder for killing his wife. He strangled her and slit her throat 8 times with a box cutter. The reason it was deemed manslaughter was because he was provoked by his wife. How did she provoke him? She told him she had never loved him but was in love with someone else. Given that he was in Australia under as a spouse visa, it would mean he would have to go back home if the relationship ended. And apparently because of that, he lost control and killed her.

The time in gaol for a manslaughter charge for this person is 6 years. 6 years for taking the life of someone else. In a brutal manner. Not accidentally.

This isn’t the only case though. 25 years ago, Vicki Cleary was repeatedly stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend. He was convicted of manslaughter and served less than 4 years in gaol. He managed to argue successfully that she had provoked him. How did she provoke him? She swore at him when he approached her outside her workplace and said she did not want to get back together with him.
And so, he killed her.

Is that all it takes to kill someone? To be provoked by words? Words, by the way, the victim cannot even challenge. I understand killing someone in self-defense. But provocation? How many of us have been sworn at? How many of us have had our hearts broken? How many of us have been cheated on by a partner? Did we end up killing the provocateur? Well, if we did it in NSW, guess what? It would be manslaughter and not murder.

Thankfully, there has been a push since the case I first mentioned for a change in the law. This has been a move made by Domestic Violence groups and rightly so. They want provocation to be taken out as a defence.

People who are perpetrators of DV will be ‘provoked’ at the slightest thing. If the partner doesn’t wear the kind of clothes they approve of. If the partner doesn’t bring them what they want right away. If the partner looks at a person or chats with a stranger they don’t approve of. By this law, if the DV perpetrator were to kill their partner for ‘provoking’ them, they would possibly get less than 10 years behind bars and would be free to continue their violent streak with other partners once they are out.

There is currently a parliamentary inquiry going on into this change and I sincerely hope it comes through. Because if not, we are in for a whole lot more of these cases where people claim they were provoked to kill.

What do you think my dear readers? Share your thoughts…

Until next time,


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  • Lazy Pineapple
    29 August 2012 at 6:04 am

    This is scary. If someone has a short tempered partner, that means he needs to be really careful in his behaviour so as not to provoke him.
    Some laws in India too are so ridiculous and outdated.
    Someone who violently kills another human being whether provoked or not needs to be judged as a murderer.

    • Psych Babbler
      1 September 2012 at 10:50 pm

      I agree LP…it is a very scary situation. I didn’t even realise such a law existed until this recent case. Plus it assists homophobics as well who use it to say they thought someone gay was making advances and therefore were provoked to bashing them??!!! Go figure.

  • Susan Deborah
    29 August 2012 at 6:04 am

    The word “provoke” cannot be justified for killing someone. When I hear the word “provoke” all that I can think of is men saying that they raped a woman because she “provoked” him. Well, I hope the legal system takes better care of the ones who were provoked!

    Joy always,

    • Nirvana
      29 August 2012 at 7:40 am

      Completely agree with you and Susan! The word ‘provoked’ itself is a sign of weakness. I mean, you can justify anything – including rape and murder with it! Very thoughtful post.

    • Psych Babbler
      1 September 2012 at 11:13 pm

      I agree Susan…that’s the thought that came to my mine too with regards to rape. How many times have we heard that what a woman wears is what ‘provoked’ the man to rape her and lose control!!!???

    • Psych Babbler
      1 September 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Welcome here Nirvana! I agree…this law has been used to defend even homophobic bashings by saying they were provoked by ‘advances’. It completely excuses any responsibility on the person’s part which is moronic!! And that’s putting it lightly.

  • Smita
    29 August 2012 at 7:50 am

    A thought provoking post babs!

    And I always feel that no amount of provocation something as extreme as a murder.

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 12:23 am

      I agree Smita. The only time I can understand it is in self-defence. But apart from that, there is nothing that should make a person lose control to kill. Personal responsibility has to come into play!

  • R's Mom
    29 August 2012 at 11:09 am

    Gosh this is pretty unreal you know…manslaughter for provocation despite killing the other person…like you say, loads of people provoke us..does that mean murder is fine!

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 3:59 am

      I know RM…it’s so stupid. It allows people to let go of personal responsibility and just blame being provoked. It’s akin to what some rapists say and what’s going on in India with respect to women dressing a certain way to ‘provoke’ men to rape them. Makes my blood boil!

  • Bikramjit
    29 August 2012 at 11:44 am

    well you never know what will happen when things go out of hand.. I have seen some very horrible situation OWEING to something called PROVOKED .. and it is a very common tooo


    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 4:26 am

      I know things can get out of hand Bikram but that’s only when someone gets physical in my book. Words and actions just as breaking up with a partner do not justify being provoked enough to kill someone. If someone is going to kill you, fair enough…self-defence. But otherwise, there has to be personal responsibility.

  • Lilly
    29 August 2012 at 12:00 pm

    This is a great post. It is shocking in fact. My ex partner used to be provoked at the slightest thing. Believe me people with short tempered partners go out of their way not to provoke them. But as we know it takes nothing to provoke some people. They can become violent in a nanosecond. It is terrifying to think that people with such poor impulse controls and who commit murder can turn around and say the victim provoked them to do it. I am sorry, what happened to taking responsibility for your actions. Taking a box cutter to someones throat is horrific. I really don’t get it at all and find it upsetting. The law sucks some time.

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 9:36 am

      Totally agree with all you have said Lilly…for some reason we seem to forget that people actually need to be responsible for their actions.

  • memoriesandmirages
    29 August 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Appalling 🙁 How does one prove that he/she was provoked when the other person involved is now dead? It’s his/her word against a dead person’s word? I really hope the change comes soon…this whole “provoked” this is absurd, really. And using that as an excuse for murder?

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 9:37 am

      Exactly T! The victim is no longer there to collaborate the story and yet, for some reason, the murderer’s words are taken as the truth??? Makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Charleen
    29 August 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Ugh, that’s disgusting. Hopefully the law is changed, and soon.

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 9:40 am

      I hope so too Charleen! It’d be very disappointing if they didn’t do something about it,…

  • Hrishikesh Bawa
    30 August 2012 at 8:53 pm

    This doesn’t make sense.. I mean sure when someone says somethign we get mad, enraged but we must be able to excercise self control enough to not hurt them.. So if these guys get out after four-six years, what is to say that they will not get provoked again?

    • Psych Babbler
      2 September 2012 at 9:41 am

      Welcome here Hrishikesh! I agree…for some reason the law seems to have forgotten that we are not animals and do have a brain which helps us exert self control over our actions. If not, we’d all be killing people every day for being ‘provoked’. And you’re right…it’s scary to think that these guys may be out and the next partner to ‘provoke’ them could meet the same consequence.

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