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Seeking Justice for Victim-survivors: Unconventional Legal Responses to Rape

GODDEN, NICOLA,MAY (2013) Seeking Justice for Victim-survivors: Unconventional Legal Responses to Rape. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis argues for legal responses to rape that better recognise and are more responsive to the diversity of harms that victim-survivors suffer. Securing justice for rape victim-survivors has been high on feminists’ agendas since the 1970s. Justice is typically assumed to equate to punishing the perpetrators of rape, and as the criminal justice system all too often fails to achieve this goal it is deemed to be unjust. However, some feminists are beginning to challenge this assumption, and to consider whether justice could be achieved through other methods. While some have begun to explore unconventional legal responses to rape, there has been little discussion of these responses and the meanings of justice for victim-survivors. As such, this thesis explores what constitutes justice from the perspective of victim-survivors, and, in light of this, evaluates the criminal justice system and the unconventional responses of restorative justice and tort law. It questions whether these unconventional responses can offer good means and ends to justice in themselves, and uses them as different perspectives from which to reconsider the criminal justice response to rape. To these ends, the thesis analyses a restorative justice conference which addressed sexual violence – adding to the little empirical research in this area – and explores the small body of case law in which victim-survivors have brought a civil claim in trespass to the person for rape, which has, thus far, been paid little academic attention. Suggestions are made as to how the criminal law, restorative justice and tort law could be improved to enhance justice for victim-survivors. It is argued that different legal responses should be increasingly utilised in addition, or as an alternative to, the criminal law, and that the criminal justice system should be more responsive to the diversity of harms of rape to secure justice for victim-survivors.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:rape, justice, feminism, criminal law, tort law, restorative justice
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Jan 2013 10:27

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