Justice Options for Women who are Victims of Violence is a provincial project based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
On November 17, 1999 as part of the Restorative Justice Week agenda, a workshop entitled "Gender Issues in Restorative Justice" was sponsored by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The workshop was attended by 16 people, with representation by the Restorative Justice Committee, the Evangeline Community Consultative Group, Community Legal Information Association, the PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Inter-Ministerial Women's Secretariat, Family Services Agency, religious community, and individuals. At this lunch-time workshop people dialogued about issues of violence against women and concerns about women's access to justice and restorative justice. A recommendation of the workshop participants is that this dialogue be continued.
Access to justice for women who are victims of violence is well documented in court decisions, national and local reports. The dynamics and history of violence against women are such that justice processes have the potential to re-victimize the victim more than in other types of offenses. A better understanding of the issues of justice generally for women who are victims of violence, and of restorative justice in particular is important. It is important that victims, victim advocates and community have a voice in justice policy - specifically in determining what options are available and how they are implemented. It is increasingly important to have this input from victims, victim advocates and community when new options, such as restorative approaches, are introduced into the justice system in order to ensure that victims are not re-victimized by the justice system. Creating opportunities for a community dialogue and input into justice policy regarding the issues of violence against women and the impact on and of restorative justice, in the context of justice options, for women victims of violence is a necessary next step in the encouragement and development of safe and effective responses to violence against women in Prince Edward Island.
It was determined by the project Steering Committee that to focus first on restorative justice would be premature, since women continue to be victimized by current justice options. For this reason, Phase 1 of the project focussed on all justice options for women who are victims of violence. An interest-based process was used to assist all players to better understand the needs and concerns of others and to make recommendations based on meeting those needs.
The second phase of this project focussed specifically on Restorative Justice and Violence against Women.
The focus of the third phase of this project is Linking Criminal and Family Law Issues in Woman Abuse.
In this phase of the Justice Options for Women project, a working group of survivors of violence, victim advocates and government will come together to design and make recommendations for the implementation of a domestic violence treatment option court process for PEI.
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