Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A case of wife- beating - Is a 5 year jail sentence an appropriate punishment?

The following is an actual case that happened in Israel - reported by Justice Menachem Elon's book (page 196)– The Status of Women Facts:

Case: An appeal concerning the guilt and punishment of a husband who admitted beating his wife intentionally and had been sentenced to five years imprisonment out of a maximum of 20 years . In the appeal the husband acknowledged that he had beaten his wife for years on many occasions. In general he beat her when he came home drunk.  The last episode was when he returned home drunk at 11:30 at night and they got into an argument concerning his drinking. During the argument he punched her in the face and she fell down bleeding badly. The husband then locked the door of the apartment to prevent her from leaving to get treatment the entire night. When she was finally treated the next day she had broken bones in her face and under one eye as well as a bruised face and she needed to be hospitalized for treatment.

Discussion  – the appeal of guilt was simply tossed out as having no basis. The main discussion revolved around the punishment. His attorney pointed out that he was genuinely regretful for hurting his wife and that the punishment was causing significant harm to the family.  He pointed out that the wife was in fact being punished by the sentence and that she had accepted that he was sincere and wanted him to be allowed to return home. She would now have a significant burden of supporting herself and their 3 children without his income as well as having to raise the children herself for the next 5 years. He said it was clear that he had learned his lesson and that the relationship could be repaired and improved without a jail sentence. On the other hand aside from beating his wife he had also sexually abused his daughter.

Conclusion: The court said that while there was no question that the wife wanted her husband home and that she believed his promises to reform – there was no way to ascertain or guarantee that he would in fact reform. It was equally likely that she – as many battered women – are always hopeful that this time it will be different – despite the fact that they are typically disappointed. Taking everything together the court ruled that the sentenced was justified.

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