Social justice in civil courts for whom? women, domestic abuse and agency

Kirstin Anderson

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Gender disparity still thrives in Scotland and is a root cause of
violence against women and girls. The Scottish Government (2016) reported that out of 59,882 domestic abuse incidents recorded by Scottish Police in 2014/15, 79% involved a female victim and a male perpetrator. In the same report, where gender was known, 1,901 recorded rapes or attempted rapes
showed 95% of the victims were female. Females who experience abuse, if reported, can come into contact with the justice system at various levels, the police and court systems being most prevalent. Research demonstrates that women as victims are often neglected in research about legal
intervention (Lewis, 2004) and, when examined, their experiences in civil courts can cause ‘considerable distress’ (Roberts et al., 2015: 599).

This short article discusses an element of a small internal scoping project undertaken for the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2017 that examined the human rights impact of the Scottish justice system. Despite being a small research project, the aim of the work was large; to explore the
key human rights impacts of the Scottish justice system through the lens of lived experiences in order to inform the Commission’s strategic direction of work in the area. The
scoping paper, in its entirety, highlights the lived experience of
men, women and young people, which was gathered through three small focus groups. The experience of the Scottish justice system varied across the three focus groups and included individuals with experiences of court, civil and criminal, custody and secure care. This short article focuses on the
lived experiences of the women who contributed to the project and, in particular, their experiences in the civil courts as female survivors of domestic abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Specialist publicationHoward League for Penal Reform: Early Career Academics Network Bulletin
PublisherThe Howard League for Penal Reform
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


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