Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I want to go backwards a little to what I wrote about a couple of days ago. There I looked about how news stories about sentencing treat the length of prison sentance as the only way of measuring victims pain.
A few weeks ago there were several news stories that went like this:
The woman, who cannot be named because it would identify her daughter, told The Press newspaper, her daughter, now 19, was terrified of accidentally seeing her abuser again.
She had three cars of volunteers ready to "stake out" the prison and follow any vehicles leaving and was also preparing to hand out leaflets where Harris would be released.
Reading the thread about this on the hand mirror most people responded to the question of 'help' or 'hinder' with 'hinder'.
To me it's not quite clear what it was that teh woman's actions were going to help or hinder. Were people arguing that this wouldn't help the woman who had been raped? What else could it hinder? Our general fight against rapists? The justice system's fight against rapists?*
Because to me the key question is how can the 19 year old woman ensure that she doesn't see her rapist again, which is what she's said is what she needs.
I think at the discussion around this mother's actions has tended to uphold one of the key ideas of our (in)justice system: justice is not about you. It's not about what would make you feel better, or what would help you heal. It is something that you have little input in and no control over. Louise Nicholas wasn't even allowed to speak at the parole hearing of Bob Schollum.
I think this is, at it's heart, complete and utter nonsense.
I'm not arguing here for vigilante-ism (although I will point out that a lot of the ways vigilante-ism is discussed assumes that people cannot be trusted with justice. That it is inherently wrong that, for example, women who have been raped should play a part in deciding what happens next. I don't think it'd be easy to switch from the conceptions of justice to a survivor based idea of justice.
But I do believe, and this is pretty fundamental, that women who have been raped,** know better than anyone else what they need, and what justice would look like.
I think it takes quite a lot of imagining to think about what that would mean, and that imagining is part of what I want to get too later. But now I want to make clear that for me the involvement of victims, survivors, or whatever you call people who have been wronged, is non-negotiable in my idea of justice.
* If you think it exists, which I don't.
**Or anyone who has suffered any other abuse or violation against anyone. Either something that is classified as a crime at the moment, or is not.