A free-market solution to preventing domestic-abuse

A society of normal humans have constructed a socio-economic system where victims of violent domestic abuse are given a murder-right over their abuser. A core belief of this culture is that domestic abuse is abominable and the abused should enjoy as much protection as possible from their abusers. The murder-right is defined as:

As a check on the abuser [after conviction], the abused is granted a perpetual (or very long, 20 years or so) murder-right on the abuser, and only the abuser. This murder-right is the right but not the obligation to kill the abuser at any time. (source)

As victims of domestic abuse are often strongly averse to violence themselves, provisions are made in the law for sale of the murder-right from the abused to a third-party NGO. The murder-right changes on transfer though. The NGO takes on the role of restraining order enforcement where if the abuser violates the restraining order, the NGO can exercise the murder-right.

The (previous question on this system) examined how a single NGO could make the purchase and enforcement of murder-rights into a profitable enterprise. This question seeks to explore a market place for murder-rights between multiple NGOs where cooperation and competition are expected. What would be the market dynamics for these murder-rights? Would they resemble options markets, commodities markets or some hybrid of the two?

Please address market abuse and collusion between NGOs resulting intentionally or unintentionally in the violation of the original intent of the murder-right; ie, the protection of the abused from the abuser.

Prevailing Conditions

  • This market is for a city large enough to support multiple NGOs.
  • Courts and trials are public. Laws are public knowledge as well.
  • The murder-right is considered private property much like cows, sheep or houses.
  • NGOs are free to buy and sell murder-rights between themselves. If they cannot enforce a murder-right they are free to sell it to someone who can.
  • By honor NGOs are forbidden from selling the murder-right to someone if they know or suspect that the new owner will not carry out the obligations required.

Out of Scope

  • These NGOs only deal with serious, long term domestic abuse. Peeping toms and other lesser offenses are just out of scope. Murder of the abused is also out of scope.
  • This question does not deal with defining processes for determining if a restraining order has been violated. A magic oracle determines if the order has been violated or not.
  • This question does not deal with determining exact definitions or gradations or styles of domestic abuse. This question only cares about 'serious domestic abuse'
  • How the abuser is found and killed is out of scope unless the method for death somehow affects the market between the NGOs.
  • How an abuser might protect themselves from these NGOs unless those protection measures affect the market.
  • Tech levels ought to be irrelevant since this question focuses on human social systems instead of the means to enforce the murder-right.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What is the question? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 18, 2018 at 22:08
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ One immediate problem that I see with this system is that under these conditions it becomes highly beneficial to the abuser for them to kill the abused if they think their abusive behaviour will be discovered. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2018 at 22:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Murder" is unlawful homicide, by definition. There is no such thing as legal murder. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 19, 2018 at 1:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A lot of domestic abuse is mutual. How does that play out? $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2018 at 16:51
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I foresee many false accusations being made to try to use this as a means of murder. $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2018 at 21:55

3 Answers 3


Would they resemble options markets, commodities markets or some hybrid of the two?

Why would they be like either? Commodities markets involve the sale of things that are interchangeable, like one ton of wheat is the same as another ton of wheat. That interchangeability is what makes them commodities.

Options are generally used either to hedge against risk or sometimes to gamble. If you need a ton of wheat, you might buy an option to purchase a ton of wheat at such and such a price on such and such a date. If you can get a lower price by that date, you buy that instead and let the option go unexercised. Or you may be getting a ton of wheat (e.g. if you are a wheat farmer) and want to sell on such and such a date. You buy a put option. If the price goes above the option price, you sell and let the option go unexercised. Options are generally sold on top of commodity markets.

Murder rights seem neither interchangeable nor a protection against price risk. Rather than commodities or options, I would expect their market to be like insurance or like auctions for unique items like artwork.

They are like artwork in the sense that someone may really want the bragging rights for having killed this particular convict, who may be particularly tall, muscular, or skilled. I'm thinking about the kind of people who would hunt lions or tigers for sport. In this view, each murder right would have its own unique value based on the characteristics of its subject.

They are like insurance in that the convict may never violate the restraining order. No violation and there's nothing for the non-governmental organization (NGO) to do. If there is a violation, they have to go through the effort of murdering the convict. That costs some amount of resources. This would be if some abuse victims have to pay the NGO for the NGO to take the murder right. The NGO would then be obligated to perform the murder.


Hmmmm. So buying this murder right gives me permission to kill this dude anytime I want...

If I was.... less then ethical... I might use this murder right to setup a protection racket. Drop by the individuals house and let them know that I have a bit of paper with their name on it. And tell then they need to pay me for some "life" insurance. As they are Ill, but so long as they pay for this "medicine" they should have a long life ahead of them.

Obviously rich abusers are far more valuable then deadbeats.

In other words, set up a racketeering ring where your papered "clients" pay you to live for another day. And what's more, their murder would be perfectly legal.


Fundamentally, what you're doing is contracting out a municipal service (a very specific, and unconventional, aspect of law enforcement) to private enterprise. This is something that's become more and more common in recent years and generated a lot of thought about how to go about it the right way.

In this case, your NGO is responsible for making sure that the restraining order is upheld or, if it is not, that violations are detected, somehow proven, and then punishments carried out. (As you say, the exact methods are out of scope, but presumably the NGO has to put in some amount of effort and oversight.) This is separate from the actual "murder-right" that it sells to the private buyer; in a sense, arranging the sale of the murder-right is another of the duties the NGO takes on, rather than an asset that's actually given to them. (In the same way, we might imagine a private enterprise that certifies bars and restaurants and arranges liquor licenses for them, but does not itself hold a license because it has no reason to.)

Note that the contract here really has two parts: one is a matter of physical enforcement and monitoring, and the other is a matter of sales and marketing (and a certain amount of background checking, to fulfill due diligence per your condition #5). It wouldn't be irrational for the NGO to handle one aspect directly and subcontract the other.

The most likely model I see has one vendor selling the murder-rights to the public, and one or more security firms handling the actual tracking and enforcement of the abusers. It makes sense for the firms to specialize, since not every offender will be the same. They also need to be relatively local to the offenders and victims. There's likely to be competition among them where their specialties and localities overlap. On the other hand, multiple vendors doesn't make as much sense: a single market makes it easier to attract customers, improves prices by presenting each murder-right to as many bidders as possible, and prevents doubling-up of work like background checks.

Who ends up with the profit will probably depend to a certain extent on how this system is put in place. If the city gets it in their head to sell these to the public directly or through a broker first, then the brokers will probably end up with the lion's share of the money, with the security firms probably being paid on contract. On the other hand, if the city accepts an all-inclusive "make this problem go away" bid from the security people, who arrange for brokerage themselves, the security firms will get a lot more of the profit (although it's probably prudent to pay the brokers on commission).


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