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Will restorative justice help Indian sexual crime survivors where legal system lacks?

Monday 11th of February 2019 | Asia, India
thenewsminute
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Sujatha Baliga remembers running away from home in rural Pennsylvania in the United States when she was 13. For a while she stayed with a teacher, who eventually brought her back home. The teacher made Sujatha and her parents sit at their dining table and said, “No one will interrupt each other; we are just going to answer the question: why does Sujatha want to run away from home?”

Sitting around the table, Sujatha remembers that her mother went on a tirade about how their daughter was a problem child. “I was a wild child… shaving half my head, wanting to be a typical American teenager who wanted a boyfriend and go to school dances and all. My mother did not like that, and was very strict,” Sujatha recalls. And when it was teenage Sujatha’s turn to talk at that table, she looked her father in the eye and said, “I don’t know, why don’t you tell us? Why do you think I want to leave home?”

For years, her father had been sexually abusing her. And though Sujatha ultimately did not out him, the abuse stopped from that day.

That conversation, says Sujatha, was her first exposure to a restorative justice process, a model of justice based on listening, forgiveness and acceptance.

Restorative justice (RJ) shifts the way we look at crime -- as harm done to a person or a relationship as opposed to a violation of the law. Instead of punishment, it focuses on how the person who has done the harm can repair it.

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

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