Below is an excerpt from “How can advocates better understand Transformative Justice and its connection to gender-based violence intervention and prevention work?” a blog post by Laura Chow Reeve published in full on VAWnet.org, June 9, 2020.
As advocates and preventionists, we often name safety, healing, and prevention as both our priorities and core values. We want to center these things, not only for survivors of gender-based violence but for all communities. Those conversations around what actually keeps us safe, what actually allows survivors and communities to heal and thrive, and what will actually end violence, need to address the inadequacies and harm inherent in incarceration and policing. This is a particularly necessary and urgent conversation as local and national organizers rise a call to #DefundPolice due to present and historical Anti-Black Violence committed by law enforcement.
Mia Mingus, writer and organizer with the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, describes Transformative Justice on her blog Leaving Evidence as “a political framework for responding to violence, harm & abuse…without creating more violence.” Transformative Justice was created for and by communities who experience systemic oppression, have been targeted by police and carceral systems, and who often have not had access to institutionalized responses to harm. Some of the reasons include, but are not limited to, being undocumented, previous violent or harmful interactions with police individually, in their communities, or historically, the criminalization of Black, Indigenous and People of Color, or harassment due to their gender identities as trans women, men, or gender non-conforming people.
Before I dive deeper on this topic, I’d like to name that while this may be a new conversation for the mainstream domestic violence movement, women and gender non-conforming organizers in abolitionist and anti-racist feminist spaces have been doing this work for a long time. In fact, one such organization, INCITE!, a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities, celebrated the 20th year of its founding in April. There are a lot of resources and tools to learn from, and it is important to remember that not all work is for mainstream advocates to lead; it is important rather to support, uplift, and provide resources to work that is rooted in and has been developed for and by a specific community.
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