Restorative justice and sexual violence: review of 5 years of practice.

Published on 3 November 2022

In 2019, a study by the Ministry of Public Safety regarding sexual offenses reveals that sexual crimes have been on a steady increase for almost a decade. While the number of complaints has increased since 2017 concerning recent sexual assaults, it remains stable for older violence, and ultimately remains minimal. The Secretariat for the Status of Women confirms that the rate of denunciation of sexual assault is only 5 to 6%. Not only is this violence polymorphic and sprawling, but in addition it is little denounced due to the nature of the aggression (the fact that the crime affects intimacy and arouses shame) and the nature of the bond that unites people. victims and their attackers (spouse, ex-spouse or, more generally, a relative, a known person): 84.2% of minor victims and 78.8% of adult victims say they know their attacker. The #metoo phenomenon has allowed tongues to loosen, the words of victims to be released and to be heard. However, a certain omerta still weighs on victims of intimate violence – mostly women. There is still a long way to go before the penal system recognizes them as more than just witnesses in court. To this day, there are still many victims who do not wish to see the legal system take over the situation and are considering mediation to try to manage the repercussions of a situation of sexual abuse. In this sense, restorative justice offers a model of intimate justice and dialogue by offering a voice and a place to victims. Far from being a simple alternative or a complement, restorative justice is now a justice option in itself. It is a form of denunciation, empowerment, a reappropriation of experience and a quest for justice in its own right. Restorative justice does not offer a single solution or choice. It is a form of justice, tailor-made, which is modeled at the pace and expectations of people while ensuring the physical, psychological and relational security of each participant. Today, we can affirm that restorative justice is one of the possible solutions in terms of access to justice for all those affected by a crime.

Retrospective of 5 years of specialized mediation in our network.

Since 2017, our restorative justice and citizen mediation network has been offering specialized, free and confidential mediation services for victims, perpetrators and witnesses of sexual and gender-based violence and other serious crimes against the person. Requests for specialized mediation keep coming. Over the past five years, we have received 177 requests in our network. Specialized mediation can be considered At any point in a person's life, · Whether or not the situation has been brought to justice, · Between persons directly linked by the event or with substitute persons. · With one person or with several people, In many forms: face to face, in person, in writing, remotely, etc. People who wish to get involved in this type of process are voluntary and can withdraw from the process at any time. This year, two works support the legitimacy of restorative justice and more particularly of specialized mediation. They put into words and images the need for victims to benefit from other forms of justice: Produced by committed director Pauline Voisard, the documentary When Punishing is Not Sufficient - Restorative Justice is one of the rare French-language films that contributes to highlighting restorative justice and mediation, far from stereotypes and prejudices. The Quebec documentary filmmaker delivers unprecedented work to us: by opening the doors of the Correctional Service Canada and the Equijustice network to us, she offers us an immersion in a remarkable process, alongside mediators and people affected by a crime.

A report on Restorative justice in relation to sexual violence was written at the end of a research project carried out in 2020-2021 as part of the grant from the Fonds d'aide aux victims d'actescrimes (FAVAC) by independent researcher Laurence Marceau. The objective of this study is to deepen the understanding of the experience as experienced by victims and perpetrators who have used the restorative justice dialogue services provided by Équijustice members. More broadly, the objective is to produce scientific and social knowledge and to propose avenues for reflection and action for all∙the actors∙ices involved∙e∙s from near or far in the practices and theories related to the issue of sexual violence, and above all, all victims, survivors, perpetrators and loved ones, who question the deployment of restorative justice. Read the memoir :