This chapter explores the construction of women victims of murder and manslaughter by men in English sentencing remarks. Sentencing remarks serve the purpose of summarising evidence, narratives, and justifications for the final sentence. It is here where victims will either be backgrounded or may receive final acknowledgement or ‘voice’. Data for this study is comprised of all sentencing remarks published online by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary of England and Wales, 2012–2016, concerning adult women who have been killed by men: a total of 14 sentencing remarks containing approximately 30,000 words. We use XML to mark-up all references to victims in the corpus of sentencing remarks and Sketch Engine to carry out detailed investigations. Using frequency and concordance analysis, we discover that forename- only strategies are common for women victims in sentencing remarks, indicating social proximity and underlining the sense of vulnerability. Relational identification – e.g. wife – positions victims within expected/gendered roles and social hierarchies. Women victims are (perhaps predictably) disempowered in transitive processes. We argue that XML mark-up improves and enhances search-and-recall while enabling collocation in a small corpus. Furthermore, it has the potential to reduce subjectivity and optimise analysis time while being easily adaptable to other languages and contexts.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge Handbook of Language, Gender, and Sexuality|
|Editors||Jo Angouri, Judith Baxter|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon|
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 27 Apr 2021|