Sunday 23 July 2017

Far from being victims of system, women are beneficiaries

Sexual equality is ill served by bringing gender into issues of criminal responsibility, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

THERE'S a German proverb which says the only true equality is in the graveyard, a truism which was put into practical effect last week by the US state of Virginia with the execution of 41-year-old Teresa Lewis for plotting the murder of her husband and stepson.

Lewis is the first woman to be executed in the US for five years, and the first in her home state for nearly a century, leading to a predictable outcry from the kind of people who always seem much more concerned about the human rights of killers than they are about the right to life of their victims. Still, that's their prerogative. What I refuse to believe is that Teresa Lewis's gender has anything to do with the issue.

Virginia carries out the second highest number of executions in America after Texas. Since 1976, the state has put to death over 100 men, few of whose names are now remembered. The fact that one murderer wore a bra and the others didn't is beside the point. Women are more than capable of plotting and committing brutal crimes. Why should the system treat them any differently when they get caught?

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