The Costs of Justice in Domestic Violence Cases: Mapping Canadian Law and Policy
In Trevor Farrow & Les Jacobs, eds, The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law (Vancouver, UBC Press, 2020)
30 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 8 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 11, 2020
Domestic violence cases in Canada present unique access to justice challenges due to complex power dynamics, structural inequality, and the reality that victims, offenders, and children must often navigate multiple legal systems to resolve multiple issues. The complexity of these cases has both personal and systemic impacts, and because women are the primary victims of domestic violence, these impacts are gendered and are heightened for marginalized women. Issues may also differ across Canadian provinces and territories and on First Nations reserves given the application of different laws, policies, and dispute resolution models. This paper explores how the access to justice crisis in Canada manifests in domestic violence cases. After reviewing the literature on access to justice and domestic violence, we map out and compare laws, government policies and justice system components affecting the parties in domestic violence cases across Canadian jurisdictions, highlighting the barriers in seeking justice that women and their children confront. We then use a hypothetical case study to explore how the complex interaction of these laws, policies, and processes may impact domestic violence victims. Our analysis is a first step towards identifying the systemic reforms necessary to enhance access to justice in domestic violence cases.
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