The traditional court system is a slow-moving beast. It has improved markedly in recent years because of the leadership shown by magistrates and judges, but it remains very formal, intimidating and for accused persons found guilty it can have catastrophic consequences because of the predilection of politicians in recent years to increase penalties for sex offences and through the creation of monitoring mechanisms. As Griffith University criminologists Katherine Daly and Sarah Curtis-Frawley observed in 2005, from the victim's perspective the ''impersonal and intimidating courtroom environment, defence attorney questioning that exacerbates self-blame, and perpetrator's unmoving stance that he is not guilty of a crime'' are further sources of legal victimisation.

It is time then to look at legislating for an alternative system involving mediation and therapeutic justice that is informal.

Such a process should only be available for a certain range of sex offences. Cases where there is no penetration, such as touching the genitalia or breasts, voyeurism, indecent exposure and sexting could be included in the list of offences that can be referred by the court or by agreement with the prosecution and defence to mediation. Mediation must involve the consent of the victim and the perpetrator must acknowledge his or her guilt. Where the victim is a child, the use of restorative justice would be problematic.

....Mediation and restorative justice processes are not a cure-all and there are limitations on their use. But it is worth policy makers, judges and magistrates contemplating their use in certain types of sex offence cases instead of putting the victim through the ordeal of a protracted criminal trial process.

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