R v Ahluwalia [1993]


Ahluwalia was an overwhelmingly positive legal landmark for women. However, the gendered nature of the justice system remains. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the dilution of the sexual infidelity exclusion [in R v Clinton], as well as in interpretations of the requirement to focus on the circumstances of the defendant’s loss of control. It is clear that despite progress made, the pervasiveness of gendered stereotyping around (battered) women remains.

Siobhan Weare

The landmark case of Ahluwalia liberalised the defence of provocation for women who kill their abusive partners, and acknowledged Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) could be a relevant characteristic of the defendant’s for the purposes of the defence. The case began a process of law reform, culminating in the abolition of provocation and its replacement with a new partial defence to murder; loss of control, found in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.


The full version of this landmark is written by Siobhan Weare.


Learn More

The Guardian News and Media Ltd., ‘I Wanted Him to Stop Hurting Me’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/apr/04/gender.ukcrime

The Independent, ‘Law Report: Battered Woman Syndrome Relevant to Defence’ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/law-report-battered-woman-syndrome-relevant-to-defence-1526492.html

Justice for Women https://www.justiceforwomen.org.uk

Law Commission, Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide (Law Com No 304, 2006) (EasyRead version) http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/app/uploads/2015/03/lc304_Murder_Manslaughter_and_Infanticide_Report_easyread.pdf

Southall Black Sisters, http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk

Southall Black Sisters, ‘Kiranjit Ahluwalia’ http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/campaigns/kiranjit-ahluwalia

Southall Black Sisters, ‘Provoked: The Story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia’ https://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/store/provoked-kiranjit-ahluwalia