Donostia Kultura
Donostiako Udala

Restorative Justice for violence against women

Violence against women is the result of the patriarchal structure that is present in all social strata and in every country around the world. It is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights: according to the UN, globally, 38% of all murders of women are committed by their male intimate partners.

a better man 3

Allegations of mistreatment of women have increased in Spain: in 2017 there were 166,260 reports of mistreatment of women by their intimate partners or ex-partners, a 16.35% increase from the previous year. More than 66% of the cases resulted in conviction of the abuser, according to data from Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ in its Spanish initials).

In any event, is it enough to pass laws to end violence against women? What measures can be implemented to combat sexist violence, in addition to the critical job of raising awareness?

So far, the judicial system has focused on punishing the abuser, rather than on the victim’s need for reparation. This often causes dissatisfaction, with victims deciding not to denounce or to withdraw the complaint. According to the CGPJ, 12% of battered women withdraw the charges before the trial begins.

Restorative justice, on the other hand, seeks to repair the damage caused to the victim, and new formulas for abused women to heal their wounds and find security and justice.

The penal system does not focus on rehabilitation or repair. Restorative justice, on the other hand, seeks to repair the damage caused to the victim, and new formulas for abused women to heal their wounds and find security and justice. In a move towards a more humanizing form of justice, methods include incorporating dialogue, providing comprehensive care for the victim, and trying to reintegrate the offender. The threat of jail, in general, does not make the abuser assume responsibility for the damage he has caused.

In fact, people who work in violence-prevention programmes for abusers feel that the first step to eradicating sexist violence is for perpetrators to accept responsibility for their behaviour and to want to change their attitude. Hearing the victim explain the harm caused, expressing remorse and trying to repair the damage (in a manner acceptable to the battered woman) is a step forward.

Mediation is the main way to achieve justice focused on the victim, and to facilitate a dialogue between victim and offender in an attempt to reach an agreement.

Restorative justice starts from the fact that besides being against the law, the crime also hurts specific people and society as a whole. Therefore, given that prison or removal do not always compensate victims for the harm that was caused to them, restorative justice tries to empower the victim, determine the damage suffered and decide what the offender should do to answer for his crime(s).

Mediation is the main way to achieve justice focused on the victim, and to facilitate a dialogue between victim and offender in an attempt to reach an agreement. In Euskadi, an intrajudicial mediation service exists in all judicial districts.

Film:A Better Man