Policing of Domestic Violence: Perceptions of Victims and Perpetrators- Aastha Dahal
15 October 2023/२८ असोज २०८० (आइतबार, दिउँसो ३ बजे)
Research Seminar Series
Policing of Domestic Violence: Perceptions of Victims and Perpetrators
Dr Aastha Dahal, Lawyer and Criminologist
The criminalisation of spousal violence in many jurisdictions around the world has conferred powers on police forces to use coercive methods including arrest and detention to address this crime. Yet the use of punitive criminal sanctions in spousal violence remains contentious with empirical evidence showing limited effectiveness in preventing reoffending and that such measures are often unpopular among both police and victims.
In contrast to policing practices in many parts of the world, the Nepal Police employs a discussion-based conflict resolution process to deal with cases of spousal violence. Within the Women and Children’s Service Centres of the Nepal Police, reported cases of spousal violence are settled through discussion between the victim, perpetrator and their respective friends and family. These discussions are moderated by police officers. Very little, however, is known about how victims and perpetrators experiencing this policing intervention perceive it.
This study involved 100 case observations of the police conflict resolution (PCR) processes and interviews with 82 victims and 73 perpetrators who participated in them, to explore how victims and perpetrators experienced PCRs. Their views of procedural justice and distributive justice were compared to the ratings of the observer. The findings suggest that procedural justice, in this context at least, is a subjective construct, the judgment of which might be influenced by factors beyond the police encounter and the objective behavior of the police, such as the expectations and life experiences of each party present. Victims’ satisfaction and perpetrators’ subsequent compliance with PCR outcomes also look to be influenced by factors beyond the PCR itself. Arguments are advanced for understanding the findings through the application of a relational model of justice that takes into account the social and situational contexts within which policing is conducted in Nepal. Implications of this research, particularly for policing in Nepal, are discussed.
About the Speaker:
Aastha Dahal is a lawyer and criminologist. She has conducted research focusing on various aspects of criminal justice including policing, domestic violence, torture, sexual violence and the the pratice of criminal law within Nepali courts. She has worked in policy advising and legislative review for the Nepal government and international organizations. She earned her PhD in criminology from University of Cambridge in 2020 and LLB from Tribhuvan University in 2010 and BA (Honours) from Carleton University in 2008.