Academic journal article Dalhousie Law Journal

Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence? from Vaguely Hostile Skeptic to Cautious Convert: Why Feminists Should Critically Engage with Restorative Approaches to Law

Academic journal article Dalhousie Law Journal

Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence? from Vaguely Hostile Skeptic to Cautious Convert: Why Feminists Should Critically Engage with Restorative Approaches to Law

Article excerpt

Legal remedies for crimes of gendered violence that are more effective, expansive, creative, victim-centred, and victim-sensitive are urgently needed. The author argues that restorative justice is one promising approach which warrants critical engagement and, more importantly, requires input from feminists in their efforts to end violence against women. The paper concludes with some key principles and recommended directions for further engagement between feminists and proponéis of restorative justice in the development of approaches to the harms of gendered violence.

Il est grand temps que soient mis en place des recours juridiques plus efficaces, plus larges, plus créatifs, plus axés sur les victimes et plus sensibles à leurs besoins dans les affaires de violence fondée sur le sexe. L'auteure allègue que la justice réparatrice est une approche prometteuse qui justifie un engagement critique et, point plus important, qui exige l'implication de féministes dans leurs efforts de mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes. En conclusion, l'article énonce des principes clés et recommande des orientations concernant une plus grande collaboration entre féministes et promoteurs de la justice réparatrice pour la recherche de moyens d'aborder les préjudices résultant de la violence fondée sur le sexe.

Introduction: why engage?

I. Criminal and restorative justice systems

1. The criminal justice system as a failed or failing model

2. Defining terms: what is meant by "restorative justice "?

3. Restorative justice, values, processes, and practices

II. Identifying possibilities, expanding options: why consider restorative justice for (some) crimes of gendered violence?

1. What can restorative justice offer women harmed by gendered violence? A victim-centred theory and practice

2. Moving past offenders 'denial: the acknowledgment of responsibility as the starting point for a restorative approach

3. Restorative justice, community participation, and the link to prevention

4. Restorative justice in practice: case studies and their limitations

III. Concerns and considerations for a feminist-inspired restorative justice approach to some crimes of gendered violence

1. Feminist criticisms of restorative justice

2. Shifting the frame: asking different questions

3. Considerations for a robust restorative justice approach to (selected) cases of gendered violence: key principles articulated by the violence against women sector

4. Essential restorative justice procedural components: planning, monitoring, transparency, and ongoing evaluation

5. Trauma-informed legal responses and trauma-informed restorative justice

6. Expanding and redefining what counts as a successful outcome for processing crimes of gendered violence: restorative justice and the criminal justice system

7. Engaging the state: cautions about government enthusiasm to divert from the criminal justice system


Introduction: why engage?

Developing better and more humane ways of understanding and responding to the social problem of violence against women and children has animated several decades of feminist scholarship and activism. Indeed, directly flowing from feminist legal and social advocacy, significant victories have been achieved in establishing improved criminal justice system responses to gendered violence. To name just a few, these include: reform to sexual assault law, evidentiary protections to guard against the excesses of traditional victim blaming techniques and rape myths, mandatory charging and prosecution in domestic violence cases, the development of specialized domestic violence courts, and enhanced civil remedies such as restraining orders for domestic violence.1 Yet these victories, important as they are, can arguably be characterized as tinkering around the edges of a legal system that remains profoundly unresponsive to the needs of women who are harmed by sexual and physical violence. …

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