Linguistic representation of violence in judicial opinions in Malaysia

Norzanita Othman, Nor Fariza Mohd Nor, Noraini Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Violent behaviour is understood as being a social and unilateral action initiated by one party. It is social in nature as it occurs within an interpersonal context and unilateral per se because it involves action taken by one individual against the well-being of another. Judges use strategic discursive strategies to describe the accounts of the crime in their judicial decisions. This research aims to investigate the language used by judges to describe the accounts of rape in selected appellate judgments of sexual violence cases in Malaysia. Specifically, it aims to investigate the discursive strategies adopted by judges to reformulate the description of the crime. The findings revealed that violent, disapproving, sexual, and ambiguous terms were adopted. It was also revealed that the crime is often characterized as a non-coerced and mutually-consented behaviour rather than a criminal act. This results in minimizing the level of violence, the mitigation of offender’s responsibility, and the relegation of victim’s experience to the background. Another significant finding from this study is the issue of judges’ ‘interpretative repertoires’ in describing cases of sexual violence. We recommend for future studies to include a bigger sample size, as well as to study whether different rape categories namely acquaintance rape, incestuous rape, and stranger rape would reveal distinctive terms used for the respective rape types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-98
Number of pages17
JournalGEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Fingerprint

rape
Malaysia
violence
linguistics
offense
sexual violence
Linguistic Representation
Rape
offender
well-being
responsibility
language
Crime
experience

Keywords

  • Discourse analysis
  • Judicial opinions
  • Language and violence
  • Legal discourse
  • Sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

Linguistic representation of violence in judicial opinions in Malaysia. / Othman, Norzanita; Mohd Nor, Nor Fariza; Ibrahim, Noraini.

In: GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, 01.05.2019, p. 82-98.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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