Restorative practices in the case of sexual violence: exploring the progress and main challenges internationally

Estelle Zinsstag

1LINC/KU Leuven, , Belgium

Sexual violence is a crime that is frequent and widespread but whose survivors in their great majority do not receive (adequate) redress. It is a crime with high levels of attrition, for which victims may feel discouraged or even punished for coming forward and sometimes re-victimised by criminal justice and other processes. It is a widely recognised fact that the current and traditional approach to ‘justice’ is limited in what it can offer to either victims or offenders of sexual crimes and that therefore many of their needs are not met.

The theory and practice of restorative justice is rapidly developing and offering some well-argued new avenues for dealing with crime in general and particularly with sexual violence. Research shows that victims/survivors are the main initiators and that practice is ahead of theory but in many cases needs to stay ‘under the radar’ due to various challenges to its implementation. It is the intention of this paper to examine restorative justice practice in more depth in this particular context, discuss the challenges encountered by this emerging practice and see how they could be addressed constructively.




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