Unearthing new concepts of justice: Women sexual violence survivors seeking healing and justice— Hung Suet-Lin and David Denborough

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Justice and healing are closely linked. A strong sense of injustice can hinder healing. In the context of Hong Kong, and likely in many other places, where the legal system is seen as the only means for achieving justice, and legal/criminal justice is upheld as the only concept of justice, many survivors of sexual violence are left with few options for healing redress. Expanding concepts of justice beyond those rooted in criminal law systems may increase the possibilities for healing. This project describes one such collective process, enabling Chinese women who have experienced sexual violence to move from single story testimonies of harm done, to double story testimonies that include the responses, skills and values of survivors. The process involved richly acknowledging the multiple injustices and effects of these injustices, developing a storyline of surviving injustices including the steps taken by women to ‘break the secrecy’ and ‘not pursing any further’ in the legal system, and creating a forum of narrative justice. It was acknowledged that justice can be achieved in multiple ways, in the social and in people’s eyes and judgment, which may have historic cultural resonances.

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This article comes with two companion pieces:

Unearthed conceptions of justice for women who have experienced sexual violence: Possibilities for healing and enhancing criminal justice— Haley Clark

How women understand justice and the relevance of this to criminal justice practice is often overlooked in literature on system responses to sexual violence. By reflecting on Hung’s and Denborough’s (2013) article, I consider that the value of collective narrative justice forums in developing understandings of justice and promoting healing for women who have experienced sexual violence and system injustice is apparent. I argue that in addition to contributing to individual healing the unearthed concepts of justice have relevance to the ways in which sexual violence is responded to within the criminal justice system and in society generally. Privileging the knowledge and insights of women enables more robust understandings of justice to emerge, and opens new possibilities to strengthen responses to sexual violence.

Healing and justice together: searching for narrative justice— David Denborough

Once we acknowledge that we have a profound and often unnamed and unacknowledged problem in our country; that our ‘justice system’ in many ways perpetuates injustice, then what are we to do? If we are the receivers of stories of social injustice, then what are our responsibilities? Perhaps we can’t leave matters of justice only to lawyers and the legal system. Perhaps we can question how our work can contribute to both healing and justice. This piece was created from a speech given by David Denborough at the 10th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference held in Adelaide, Australia, March 2013.

 

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