Legislation should specifically preclude police, legal system officials and other leaders from offering mediation or assisted alternative dispute resolution services to resolve issues between widows and her in-laws or heirs of the deceased, both before and during legal proceedings in widow maltreatment cases. Police, judges and other leaders should not attempt to improve relations in the family by offering these services or by mediating a dispute. See: UN Handbook 3.9.1 and Section on Roles of Police.
Mediation reflects an assumption that both parties are equally at fault for the violence. It assumes that both parties have equal bargaining power, yet in reality an abuser may hold tremendous power over a victim. Traditional patrilineal societies that assume the marital property and children belong to the husband’s side of the family further weaken any bargaining power a widow may have. Mediation also removes a domestic violence case from public view and objective judicial scrutiny.
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