In a bizarre turn of events, some killers in the UK are getting reduced sentences by using what lawyers are calling “the Fifty Shades of Grey defence.” A few lawmakers are trying to change that.
The film adaptation of E. L. James best-selling Fifty Shades series caught some serious flack when it came out for its less-than-stellar portrayal of the BDSM subculture. In particular, critics of the series pointed to its shallow, one-dimensional understanding of consent and safety in BDSM contexts. Now, these concerns about James’ erotic series are having real-word, legal consequences.
image via the spectator
Harriet Harman, a member of parliament and former Labour party leader, called for a change in order to stop abusers who kill their partners from dodging murder charges by claiming their partners perished during consensual rough sex.
During a debate in the House of Commons, Harman dubbed this strategy “the Fifty Shades of Grey defence” and said:
It used to be the case that men used to routinely get away with murder and only be charged with manslaughter because they could say that, although they had killed her, it was not his fault, it was her fault because she provoked him. And that was the provocation defence which led to a charge being reduced down from murder to manslaughter.
Harman argued that defendants using the Fifty Shades defense are essentially doing the same thing in a different way. The precedent in the law is especially chilling because it allows the killer to control the victim’s narrative:
[The victim], of course, is not there to say otherwise. So, in the witness box, [the accused] gives lurid, unchallengeable accounts of her addiction to violent sex, and explains that the bruises that cover her body were what she wanted. The grieving relatives have to listen to his version of her sexual proclivities and see them splashed all over social media and in the newspapers. He has killed her, and then he defines her.
Ms. Harman brought up the example of Natalie Conolly, whose killer was sentenced for manslaughter rather than murder after he testified Conolly had died during “rough sex.” In order to get justice for women like Conolly, Harman argued the law needs to be changed.
image via Express & Star
Ms. Connolly’s constituency MP Tory Mark Garnier also spoke in support of the Domestic Abuse Bill, back Ms. Harman:
What we can do is we can make sure that somebody who really understands this can make the decision, so in the event of this type of injury and homicide under a domestic abuse setting that the Director of Public Prosecutions is the one that is consulted if a change is going to be made and that way those families get the support…If there’s any way that we can remember her, we have to do something to make sure this can never happen to anybody ever again.
Featured Image via The Telegraph