As we all know, Equality and Diversity should be firmly embedded in the curriculum and part of the lecturer’s planning and scheme of work. However, there are some little challenges that you just don’t think of when you’re planning a session. For example, take a typical Criminal law session on the new partial defence to murder of ‘loss of control’ that replaces the old law on provocation.
This is a very interesting subject to consider in the light of gender equality, since the change comes about because of Parliament’s view that the previous law made it too easy for a man to kill his partner as a result of sexual jealousy and then claim the defence of provocation, whilst a battered woman could find herself unable to rely on the defence after months or years of abuse because of the technical requirement for a sudden and temporary loss of control. Teaching a small, all-female group of students, you would expect this change to lead to lively discussion… and so it did, but not in the way I had expected.
Rather than considering the previous inequitable position of battered wives etc., instead my ladies debated with vigour the question of whether the sound of a man snoring should be a ‘qualifying trigger’ under the new law, since it was undoubtedly ‘of an extremely grave character’, giving rise to the required ‘justifiable sense of being seriously wronged’. Audio evidence was produced, to hilarious effect, and I rather fear we fell from grace in the promotion of gender equality as the conversation turned to what might politely be termed ‘self help remedies’, many of which would probably breach Article 3 ECHR (prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment).