Separation/Restorative Justice

"I think in the courts there's no space for women to express and alleviate their trauma. It is nice to have that space here at the mediation center." A family member to a party involved in a mutual consent divorce case expressed the advantages of mediation; "In the courts, it may take years, and in mediation, it's faster and it's restorative." Echoing the language of human rights, the family member excitedly spoke of how the truth that can be revealed through mediation helps to restore relationships and build trust, as opposed to courts, which foster mistrust and anger.

Where courts are focused on justice for one, mediation, she claimed, created therapeutic justice for all parties involved with a case       petitioner, respondent, and the family members and friends involved. This mutual consent divorce case began as any other; both parties agreed that they simply had irreconcilable differences. They amicably agreed on all terms of their separation - no maintenance, no custody claims, no repatriation of gifts - simply wanting a separation. They were kind to one another throughout the session, and there was no conflict. Their decision had been made, and was ready to be drafted and sent to the courts without the need to discuss further. However, moments before the mediator was to leave to draft the agreement, the husband brought up a debt of eleven lakhs to show his wife. Sensing deeper conflict beneath the surface of "irreconcilable differences", the mediator dug deeper in individual meetings with the parties.

Privately, each party expressed the distress they felt from their marriage. Both felt shame and humiliation from what they had experienced with the other. The husband felt shame by the actions of his partner's sex drive and social skills, and feared that his reputation in the local community would suffer because of it. The wife's shame was more personal; she was hurt by things he had said directly to her throughout their relationship, from accusations of insanity to unfounded criticisms of her hygiene. She did not fear for her reputation, she wanted to be free of the petitioner. Her humiliation was overbearing, bringing her to tears at the table. She needed to push the pain behind her. Speaking of the effect of being able to express their emotions and pain to their mediator, the family member said that "it's been huge for both of them." Instead of sweeping their feelings under the rug, the mediator brought them to the forefront, helping them to self-cope by serving as the listening ear