Domestic Violence and the Gendered Law of Self-Defence in France: The Case of Jacqueline Sauvage

Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Marion Vannier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Legal responses to battered women who kill have long animated scholarly debate and law reform activity. In September 2012 after 47 years of alleged abuse, Frenchwoman Jacqueline Sauvage fatally shot her abusive husband three times in the back. The subsequent contested trial, conviction for murder, unsuccessful appeal and later presidential pardon of Sauvage thrust the French law of self-defence into the spotlight. The Sauvage case raises important questions surrounding the adequacy of the French criminal law in this area, the ongoing proliferation of gendered stereotypes in law and the need for reform. In the wake of the Sauvage case, this article provides a timely analysis of the gendered law of self-defence in France. Drawing from an in-depth analysis of the judgments imposed in the Sauvage case, this article examines the adequacy of French legal responses to battered women who kill and ignites an argument for further law reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-335
Number of pages23
JournalFeminist Legal Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Battered women
  • Domestic violence
  • Homicide law
  • Law reform
  • Self-defence law

Cite this