In a thought-provoking presentation, Associate Professor Marie Keenan from the University College Dublin delved into her extensive experience and research in the field of sexual violence. With a focus on restorative justice, Prof. Keenan shed light on its potential to bring healing, empowerment, and societal change
Prof. Keenan’s expertise spans over four decades as a practitioner-researcher, accredited psychotherapist, restorative justice practitioner, and registered social worker. Her dedication to understanding the complexities of sexual violence has resulted in influential publications such as “Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organizational Culture” (2012) and “Restorative Responses to Sexual Violence: Legal Social and Therapeutic Dimensions” (2017).
The presentation was divided into three sections that explored different aspects of restorative justice within the context of sexual violence. Beginning with an exploration of what it means for survivors to be harmed by such acts, Prof. Keenan highlighted why meeting with their offenders can hold significance for them. By engaging in these encounters voluntarily, survivors may find opportunities for closure or reclaiming power over their own narratives.
Moving forward, Prof. Keenan delved into what it means for perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions through these meetings with those they have harmed. She emphasized how this process can facilitate a reimagining of one’s future while reducing self-loathing—a transformative journey towards accountability that benefits both parties involved.
Lastly, Prof. Keenan addressed the urgent need for restorative justice as a normative response following instances of sexual crime—an imperative rooted not only in social considerations but also in moral obligations towards victims/survivors seeking resolution beyond traditional punitive measures.
Drawing from her wealth of knowledge and experience, she offered valuable insights on best practices essential to implementing effective restorative justice approaches within society’s response framework toward sexual violence cases.
By adopting a restorative justice approach, society can foster healing and empowerment for survivors while encouraging accountability and rehabilitation for offenders. Prof. Keenan’s presentation serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential that lies within this alternative form of justice.
As we continue to navigate the complexities surrounding sexual violence, it is crucial to consider the insights shared by experts like Prof. Marie Keenan. By actively embracing restorative justice principles, we can work towards building more compassionate and inclusive communities where all individuals have an opportunity to heal, grow, and find hope in their journey towards justice.