‘you attack something like this by misrepresenting and then challenging what it is not.’ Indeed!
I note there has been both discussion and practice elsewhere in the UK on this matter for some time now. A few examples:
1) BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour Wed ( 23 Sep 2015): ‘.. a look at Restorative Justices a system which allows victims of crime to meet or communicate with their offenders. It’s being increasingly used in cases of women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. We hear from a woman who was raped about how it’s helped her, the Chief Executive Officer of the Restorative Justice Council and a Senior Probation Officer involved in bringing victims and offenders together.’
2) Restorative Justice Council case studies:
‘… an opportunity to hear Rosalyn Boyce speak. … in summary she was raped by a stranger in her home and 16 years later, after a lengthy battle to convince somebody to take on the case, met her attacker in a restorative justice conference. She spoke for an hour last week (at Restorative Gloucestershire’s annual conference) and you could have heard a pin drop throughout.
‘While Rosalyn’s story is certainly unusual, it’s not unique. .. a conference in Dublin discussed the issue, with Dr Marie Keenan leading calls for restorative justice to be made available to victims of sexual violence. To coincide with this Rachel, who was violently sexually assaulted by a stranger, was interviewed on Irish radio. She described her experience of restorative justice as “amazing and profound and exactly what I wanted”.
And: ‘.. our magazine, Resolution, …. contains Emma’s story. Emma was abducted and raped by her former partner and later met him through restorative justice. Reflecting on the restorative justice conference, she said: “In the days and weeks afterwards, it was as if a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
‘Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence. It doesn’t matter how long ago the crime took place – there is no time limit. Restorative justice is only possible if the offender has admitted to the crime, and both survivor and offender must be willing to participate – it is an entirely voluntary process. ‘
And more specifically: ‘Restorative justice has to be very carefully considered in cases of sexual harm, and can usually only be considered when initiated by the survivor. If the offender is known to the survivor it may add additional risk factors. No one should ever be expected or in any way pressurised to take part, and, in order to make sure the process is safe, restorative justice should only happen when there is a facilitator with the right skills and experience available. They must have completed suitable training and have specific expertise in sexual harm. They will decide whether the process is appropriate and, if it goes ahead, make sure that the survivor is kept safe.’
‘The Restorative Justice Council recommends that any practitioner working with survivors of sexual harm gets advice from specialist organisations, like Rape Crisis.’
Scope for BBC Scotland to frame such progressive social policies in more informative, even ‘educational’ ways.