Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women: Recent Feminist Innovations

James Ptacek, Suffolk University

The variety of informal conflict-mediation practices now loosely grouped under the rubric of "restorative justice" can be seen as ways of doing community organizing around criminal victimization and other kinds of harm. In theory, these practices seek to decrease the role of the state in responding to crime, and increase the involvement of personal, familial, and neighborhood networks in repairing the harm that crime causes. As practiced in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States, restorative justice is most commonly applied to crimes by young people, largely property crimes. But there is increasing use of these practices to address crimes of violence against women. recently feminists have been examining both the dangers and potential benefits of applying restorative justice practices to crimes of battering, rape, and child sexual abuse, raising important challenges both for feminist community organizing and for restorative justice. This presentation will examine several recent restorative justice projects designed by feminists to address violence against women. Attention will be given to their efforts at expanding options for victims of violence against women, ensuring safety for women, and expanding sanctions for abusive men. The presentation will further highlight the contributions of these feminist projects to theory, research,a nd social justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006