Negotiating oppression: Conciliation in cases of domestic violence

Conciliation is a dispute resolution mechanism through which two or more people try to solve their differences with the help of a judge who seeks to reconcile the interests of the parties. This method has been employed in countless cases of violence against women under the pretext of preserving the “family unit,” and continues to be used by justice sector institutions and agents throughout the region.

A significant number of experts and international organizations have identified the dangers of conciliation as a mechanism for resolving cases of violence against women.

  • In cases of domestic violence, this is an ineffective bargaining method between the victim and the perpetrator because it is based on an inequality in power and a precedent of abuse of that power
  • It does not guarantee an end to the violence, or the protection of the victim
  • It minimizes the unlawfulness of the conduct of the offender, who frequently commits further acts of violence
  • It does not establish exemplary and effective punishment for this type of behaviour
  • It also does not guarantee that the offender will take responsibility for his behaviour and it conveys a message of permissiveness to society as a whole

The Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) notes that several States lack specific prohibitions of the use of conciliation and mediation in cases of violence against women, and that the practice is still widely used. The MESECVI has repeatedly recommended that States enact provisions prohibiting conciliation, mediation or similar means to resolve cases of domestic violence.

How can we work with States to eliminate the use of conciliation and mediation in cases of violence against women?

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