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Indigenous sentencing courts and partner violence: perspectives of court practitioners and elders on gender power imbalances during the sentencing hearing.

Marchetti, Elena
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 43(2):263-281.

One of the most common forms of violence in Indigenous communities is violence between intimate partners. Indigenous sentencing courts and specialist family violence courts (as well as mainstream courts) are used in Australia to sentence Indigenous partner violence offenders. Currently, there are over 50 Indigenous sentencing courts operating in all Australian states and territories, except Tasmania, which use Indigenous Elders to assist a judicial officer in sentencing an offender. Debates exist surrounding the issue of whether alternative justice forums are appropriate in cases involving domestic and family violence. Feminist advocates are concerned with the appearance of a ‘too lenient’ response to violent men and the danger of exposing a victim to further power imbalances during a hearing, whereas Indigenous advocates focus on the need for justice practices that are more culturally relevant, sensitive and appropriate. This article explores the extent to which gendered power imbalances are present in Australian Indigenous sentencing court hearings concerning intimate partner violence offending, and how, if at all, such power imbalances are managed by a process which aims to be more culturally appropriate. (author’s abstract)


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