The following study seeks to determine if restorative practices are appropriate in cases where sexual violence has occurred against women. Restorative practices relate to the concept of restorative justice which in relation to this research involves the communication between an offender and a victim of sexual violence. This process of dialogue may also include the family of both the victim and the offender to act as a support system to both parties. The aim of this communication is to allow both individuals (offender and victim) to decide on what the outcome should be after an offence has taken place e.g. pursuing criminal action or other reconciliatory means. The entire process is tailored to cater primarily for the needs of the victim in a way that allows her voice to be heard and guarantees her input in the resolution of the matter.

These restorative practices involve an alternative response to a criminal legal process in cases of sexual violence. It can be used in conjunction with criminal legal proceedings i.e. the offender will still be subject to criminal prosecution even though restorative justice has been carried out, or in place of such proceedings wherein the victim may refuse for formal criminal charges to be brought on the basis of an agreement for reparation that has been reached between both parties. It is however a prerequisite that the offender admit his guilt on all the allegations levied against him before this alternative route can be taken.

Some examples of restorative practices include:
a. Victim and Offender Mediation- This involves a meeting between the victim and the offender with the aid of a trained mediator to regulate the proceeding.
b. Family Group Conferencing- This involves a meeting between the offender and his or her relatives and the victim and her relatives, a police officer and psychologist if requested by the victim.
c. Sentencing Circles- Circles involve facilitated community meetings attended by the victim, offender, and their families, interested members of the community and usually representatives of the criminal justice system e.g. a judge or police officer.

The issues discussed in these meetings may help to understand why the offence occurred in order to prevent similar incidents in the future and what needs be done to meet the needs of the victim. The offender is held accountable and an agreement may be reached that involves the offender making financial restitution, undertaking to behave in a particular way or attending some rehabilitation programme, such as anger management and reconciliation between both parties

Finally, it is not mandatory for there to be a face to face dialogue between the offender and the victim if either party does not desire this. Dialogue may take place through a third party who carries information back and forth through a process known as shuttle mediation. Additionally, victims may choose a representative to attend a restorative conference/meeting on their behalf.

Please read the following ‘vignettes’ (hypothetical case studies) and describe whether you believe the women in each scenario should use restorative practices in handling the issue

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