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Restorative justice in cases of sexual violence: Power, accountability and corrective justice (and, maybe, democracy)

June 23, 2014

The study has interviewed a total of 144 respondents, of whom 29 are Victim-Survivors and 23 are Offenders. Other major players and stakeholders in our system of justice, such as judges, Gardaí, lawyers, senior politicians and advocacy groups, also form part of the study’s subject group.

In the interviews, which lasted between 2-3 hours, Respondents were encouraged to give detailed accounts of their experiences of these various systems, and they were also asked about whether they felt Restorative Justice could and should be used in cases of sexual violence. They were also asked about practical implications that might arise from having such a system. 

The aim of this project is to use these insights in creating a new Restorative Justice model to deal with a diverse range of cases of sexual violence, and a Restorative Justice model that could sit complementary to the existing legal mechanisms of accountability for sexual violence.

I myself came to the project with no experience of, and little knowledge about, the theory or practise of Restorative Justice. My background is in law, most specifically criminal justice, constitutional and human rights law, and legal philosophy. I also have a particular academic interest in how laws and the legal system impact and shape our democratic institutions and cultures. 

These background personal interests have, I think, been useful in understanding the nuances of some of the practical and philosophical implications flowing from the project’s findings. 

…Specifically, I’ll talk about problems of power imbalances between stakeholders in cases of sexual violence, most importantly the disempowerment of the Victim-Survivor by their experiences of sexual violence, and their experiences of the legal system. 

I want to explore the accountability gaps in our legal system, and the problems these gaps pose for democracy. And, finally, I’ll talk about how, both practically and conceptually, Restorative Justice Systems might serve to remedy some of these issues.

In summary, this paper is about accountability for the use and abuse of power.

Download the full paper.


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