Source: (2005) Department of Justice, Canada.

Restorative justice measures, such as victim-offender mediation and family group conferencing, have been touted as bringing a richer and more lasting justice to all parties involved—victims, offenders, family members and the community alike. Significant concerns exist, however, regarding the appropriateness of applying restorative justice to gendered violence, both because of doubts that restorative methods can benefit victims in this context and because of the perceived incompatibility of restorative justice with the women’s movement goal of establishing violence against women as a serious public criminal law issue. This paper will focus on both the appropriateness and efficacy of restorative justice measures in addressing sexual assault and on the proper forum in which it should occur. I conclude that restorative justice for victims of sexual assault has demonstrable benefits for victims and offenders, benefits that could reach more parties if offered completely apart from the criminal justice system. While restorative justice measures will have some negative impact on efforts to keep violence against women in the public eye, its demonstrated benefits would likely exceed any detrimental effect. Generating options for women who are ill-served by the current system and in need of help is the best feminist response to this very difficult issue. (excerpt)