Anti-Carceral Feminism: Abolitionist Conversations on Gender-Based Violence

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This chapter  builds on our experience as  feminist criminologists who challenge normative accounts  that  equate feminism with carceral perspectives which consider increasing surveillance, control and law-and-order as solutions to address violence against women. Mainstream and media discourses around violence against women and girls frame violence as a cultural and social problem where violence is narrowly defined as attacks that happen in the streets and  domestic sphere. Therefore, common proposed solutions have been to ‘educate our boys’ and limit women’s movements in the public sphere,  especially at night. However, this hegemonic  view does not consider other forms of structural and systemic violence that women face, such as racism towards women of colour and migrant women, or how austerity and the institutionalised misogyny of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) affect women differently and disproportionately. Multidimensional forms of violence are often erased and ignored in mainstream discourses. Structural and 08/systemic forms of violence suggest that ‘cultural shift’-solutions are not enough to address the root causes of violence towards women. Feminist groups and movements have been shedding light on the role of intersecting inequalities that characterise and challenge the homogeneous understanding of the category ‘women’. Utilising reflections from our practice as feminist scholar-activists, in combination with examples emerging from the pandemic and recent forms of collective action, we argue that diverse feminisms provide fertile ideas to expose institutionalised racism and misogyny by the CJS more generally, and to understand complex forms of violence against women as systemic. Ultimately, our analysis reveals that concepts centred on the criminalisation of violence and harassment need to be rethought, since violence towards women is not abnormal but rather the norm.  These forms of violence are not produced by ignorance, but instead they are the outcomes of a racial-patriarchal social order embedded in institutions and social arrangements. The analysis suggests that the conceptualisation of women as victims needs to be reconsidered, since it suggests fallacious claims that institutions address violence, when in fact they maintain the order of things.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlural Feminisms
Subtitle of host publicationNavigating Resistance as Everyday Praxis
EditorsSohini Chatterjee, Po-Han Lee
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781350332713
ISBN (Print)9781350332737
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2023


  • Feminism
  • violence against women
  • praxis
  • intersectionality
  • institutional violence


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