Dr Marie Keenan gave a presentation on 'Restorative Responses to Sexual violence: Challenging Perceptions' to the annual conference of the International Association of Women Police in Barcelona on Monday 11th October 2016. This presentation began
with the personal testimony of Ailbhe, who tells of her need to ‘change the memory card’ and ‘move on with her life’, processes which could not be achieved simply by involvement in criminal justice, incarceration of the ofender or the many hours of therapy in which she had engaged. These outcomes have been achieved since Ailbhe’s restorative meeting with the man who sexually assaulted her.
In outlining the key features of Restorative Justice J Dr Keenan suggested that Restorative Justice is a victim-led approach to justice, participation is voluntary, the offender must take responsibility for the harm done in order to be eligible for participation, safety of all is of paramount importance and preparation for the ‘meeting’ or conference or restorative circle is essential. Based on her own and other research Dr Keenan outlines the reasons why some victims of sexual crime would want to engage in Restorative Justice in the aftermath of sexual crime and why offenders would be willing to also participate. Forgiveness and apology interestingly are not found to be essential components of the motivation for or of successful Restorative Justice outcomes.