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Recognition of Specifically Female Laws: A Question of Justice or Responsibility

NCJ Number
Deviance et societe Volume: 16 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1992) Pages: 279-286
F Digneffe
Date Published
The author analyzes the role that a specifically female sense of justice should have within the criminal justice system.
C. Gilligan's argument that women see morality differently from men also applies to criminal justice. While male justice focuses on abstract moral concepts divorced from every day reality, women assert a practical and shared responsibility for the offense and its consequences. To women, the offender is not solely a free, responsible agent, but is functioning in a specific social context and set of relationships. The author disagrees with radical feminists who, because of these moral differences, demand a community of women separate from male society. Instead she suggests a synthesis of both views of justice which would operate in a much broader ethical context than the confines of the law. In this manner, a male-oriented criminal law can punish a rapist as a fully responsible perpetrator, while a sisterhood of women can also assume and legislate the responsibility for the rapist's victim.