An Analysis of Judicial Sentencing Practices in Sexual and Gender Based Violence Cases in the Pacific Island Region

Emily Christie
Hansdeep Singh
Jaspreet K. Singh

This study analysed a random selection of 908 cases from seven Pacific Island countries, including 111 domestic violence cases and 787 sexual assault cases. Each case is analysed to determine whether gender stereotypes, customary reconciliation (e.g. apology, forgiveness) or other contentious factors were considered during sentencing. Contentious factors are those factors which, when used in mitigation by the court, discriminate against the victim on the basis of her gender. This may be through gender stereotyping and rape myths, the consideration of customary practices which may be imbued with gender discrimination (such as forgiveness ceremonies) or other factors which unjustly privilege the interests of the perpetrator over the interests of the victim.

In 75% of cases analysed, contentious factors were raised in court and led to an actual reduction in sentence in 52% of cases. Contentious factors were raised in 90% of DV cases and in 66% of DV cases it led to a reduction in sentence. Comments and language by the judge or magistrate that indicated their views regarding gender stereotypes, rape myths, or customary forms of reconciliation are also captured in the report.

Research Type(s)
Report – Not peer reviewed
Submitted by Toksave
March 21, 2021
Published in
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