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Sita’s Trousseau: Restorative Justice, Domestic Violence, and South Asian Culture.

Goel, Rashmi
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Violence Against Women. 11(5): 639-665.

Domestic violence affects women across all national boundaries. Only recently has restorative justice been proposed as a solution to domestic violence issues. For these women, restorative justice which focuses on restoring the family preserves the only support structure available. Paying attention to the cultural specifics that govern these women’s lives and how they affect the choices they make, this article focuses specifically on South Asian women who are battered and the unique predicament they face when participating in restorative justice resolutions, as well as immigrant South Asian women who a particularly prone to flawed solutions to battering for many reasons. The article is presented in five sections. The first briefly identifies the goals, values, and methods of the restorative justice model. Second, the article reports on the current state of domestic violence in South Asian communities. It explores the story of Sita and how this model and other cultural practice serve to disempower South Asian women. Fourth, it examines how even modern Indian politics keep women confined to the traditional narrative. Lastly, it is demonstrated why restorative justice should not be applied to domestic violence cases in immigrant South Asian families. If the goal is safety, it is believed that restorative justice solutions operate more to exploit the Indian woman’s subservient position than they do to liberate her. The solution of compromising, fore bearing, and suffering silently but maintaining her family seems to be one of greater dignity and certainly more in keeping with her cultural values. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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