Restorative justice is a solution-based approach that better meets victim needs and repairs harm from abuse and victimization. While the criminal justice system focuses on how the offender broke laws and what punishment fits the crime, restorative justice focuses on how the harm impacted people and relationships and how to repair the harm. Restorative justice recognizes each victim’s unique needs, whether restoring broken relationships with unsupportive family members or providing opportunities to safely ask the offender questions or explain the abuse’s impact.
|Criminal Justice System||What law was broken?||Who broke the law?||What is the punishment?|
|Who was harmed?||What are the needs of those impacted by the harm?||Who is responsible for repairing the harm?|
Historical roots of restorative justice can be found in Indian traditions like panchayats and in present laws protecting women and children (for example, conciliation services provided in The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005). Restorative justice can be applied to sexual abuse cases in India by adding provisions to existing laws, introducing restorative justice practices into existing community-based dispute resolutions models, and more.
We will be exploring restorative justice processes in child sexual abuse and juvenile justice cases for three main reasons:
- Victims participate in the justice process and have opportunity to ask questions to the offender and share the impact.
- The offender must admit the truth about the abuse and apologize to the victim. Often when he hears about the impact, it makes more of an impression about the wrong done
- The process takes less time, is less divisive and justice focuses on repairing the harm to the individual, taking into account the family and relationship dynamics.