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Changing rights of abuse victims won't fix our domestic violence problem - lawyer

Abuse victims who murder their abuser should be able to argue self-defence, even if they weren't in immediate danger, according to a Law Commission report just out. 

There are calls for a law change allowing sufferers who murder their abusers to argue self-defence. Source: 1 NEWS

Current law says you can only claim self defence if you're in imminent danger.

The Law Commission looked at 24 different cases, in 10 of those trials the accused domestic violence victim claimed they killed their abuser in self defence.

Only three were acquitted, leading Lead Commissioner Dr Wayne Mapp to believe the justice system has failed those found guilty of manslaughter.

Dr Mapp says sometimes a victim's response is viewed as disproportionate, for example using a knife when their attacker used their fists. 

"The defendant is often saying 'I wanted to stop him, I didn't intend to kill him'," he says.

"The knife was the nearest thing, literally on the bench top and they saw no way out."

Barrister Catriona MacLennan says the recommendations are fantastic but won't solve New Zealand's family violence problem.

"Domestic violence is a male problem, the missing part of the jigsaw is that domestic violence is an urgent issue and they don't think it's up to them to fix it," Ms MacLennan says.