Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence? From Vaguely Hostile Skeptic to Cautious Convert: Why Feminists Should Critically Engage with Restorative Approaches to Law
(Fall 2013) 36 The Dalhousie Law Journal 461.
39 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2013
More effective, expansive, creative, victim-centred, and victim-sensitive legal remedies for crimes of gendered violence are urgently needed. This does not mean that we should abandon efforts at reform within the traditional criminal justice system, but it does mean that surely we can seek more radical innovations both within and without. Restorative justice is one such promising approach which warrants critical engagement and more importantly, requires input from feminists working to end violence against women, whose expertise is essential to the project of developing effective alternative responses. Obviously the many important criticisms raised in the scholarly literature on restorative justice for cases of gendered violence must be satisfactorily addressed in any development or adaptation of a restorative justice approach for cases of gendered violence. Appropriate restorative justice models for violence against women must begin from a position of being victim-centred, which is also essential to counteract the embedded offender focused orientation of the traditional criminal justice system. In light of the severe and entrenched deficiencies in the traditional criminal justice system processing of crimes of gendered violence, and because so many of these crimes are filtered out of the criminal justice system, my cautious argument is that in some cases it may be appropriate and even preferable for victims to pursue an appropriately designed restorative justice remedy, or at least, for women harmed by gendered violence to have this option available. The paper concludes with some key principles and recommended directions for further engagement, aiming at developing more sophisticated and gender sensitive remedies for the harms of gendered violence.
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