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Will restorative justice end violence against women

  • In her new book, The Apology, acclaimed playwright Eve Ensler explores restorative justice by courageously sharing a personal story of abuse
  • It’s written as a letter of deep apology from her father who was physically and sexually abusive through her formative years

Eve Ensler.
Eve Ensler. (Photo courtesy Paula Allen)

Across the world, incidents of molestation, rape, battery, or the use of women’s bodies as weapons of war, are on the rise. “One in 3 women has experienced physical/sexual violence at some point in their life," points out a research article published on the World Health Organization website recently.

In Delhi, crimes against women rose from 204 (2016) to 308 (2020) per 100,000 women.

Restorative justice, which may enable justice for victims and rehabilitate offenders, could bring about a paradigm shift.

Eve Ensler adds to the evolving dialogue of restorative justice with her latest book The Apology. The narrative unfolds as a letter of deep apology from her father, who was physically and sexually abusive through her formative years. “Most of my life, I imagined he would apologize one day, but that didn’t happen," she said at the book launch organized by the Akshara Centre in Mumbai last week. Ensler’s father died 31 years ago. During this time, she penned multiple plays and books centred on abuse and empowerment. Vagina Monologues is her seminal work. She launched the global movement One Billion Rising, a campaign to end rape and sexual violence against women, lobbied for a change in laws, opened hotlines and shelters across the world. But she never met an abuser who apologized sincerely. Ninety per cent of the victims she interacted with wanted their perpetrators to be accountable for their actions, apologize and stop all forms of violence.

She believes the book is a “blueprint for the architecture of apology" and specifies four tenets—first, the perpetrator studies aspects of his past that foreshadow abusive behaviour; second, he details accounts of the abuse and his intentions; third, he explores how the victim suffered; and finally, makes amends. Ensler’s clarity of thought and courage in writing about her experience could make it a study for restorative justice. She firmly believes this process can prove to be transformative for both victims and abusers.

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