The member organizations of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia and Women’s Centres Connect together with Alice House support women and children in Nova Scotia who have experienced Domestic and Sexualized Violence. As experts who bear witness to the toll these heinous crimes take in our communities, we consider the province-wide moratorium against the use of Restorative Justice to address these crimes to be necessary and should stand.
Women who have experienced domestic and/or sexualized violence are known to be further harmed by the current criminal justice system. However, as women’s advocates who use restorative healing approaches in our work, we note applying restorative justice for addressing these crimes have also resulted in significant re-victimization through a hasty and unsafe process.
A restorative program which downloads responsibilities to the community and the survivor without providing resources to address their needs will result in devaluing the gravity of these crimes.
Within the justice system there is inconsistent training and approaches to restorative justice, with rural areas being particularly underfunded and underserved. A restorative program attempting to address these crimes must deploy a feminist, intersectional, trauma-informed and trauma-responsive, victim-centred and rural framework. It must further acknowledge that such heinous crimes have their roots in an oppressive colonial and patriarchal system.
A CALL TO ACTION
We welcome meaningful engagement with key actors and women’s advocates across the province to inform any discussion of a restorative program for domestic and sexualized violence. Such a program must meet certain preconditions, including:
- Fully-resourced wraparound services and information for the survivors, empowering them to make informed choices;
- Operational funding and training for anyone working with victims on gender-based violence, with focus on violence against women;
- Ongoing monitoring of the results;
- Separation of restorative tables for the victim and the perpetrator.
We look forward to discussing our concerns with government and community stakeholders to fully respect and address the needs of women and their families across the province.