Skip to main content

Birkbeck's Big Ideas | Criminal "Justice" Isn't the Answer

Venue: Online

This event has ended.

Birkbeck's Big Ideas: Criminal “Justice" isn’t the Answer – Sexual Violence and the Pull of the Criminal Justice System

Book your free place here

It is widely acknowledged that the criminal justice system in England and Wales is racist, sexist, and largely unable to provide justice. In spite of this, proposed solutions often revolve around bolstering and emboldening the same irreparable system. Focusing specifically on feminist engagements with law and sexual violence, this talk will explore why so many continue to rely on state-facilitated justice. In doing so it will trace the history of a type of feminism that continues to emotionally and financially invest in the criminal “justice” system, often called carceral feminism, and simultaneously look to alternative responses to sexual violence that lie outside of the criminal legal system.

Content Note: This Big Ideas Lecture will involve discussions around violence; specifically state-facilitated and sexual violence. While there will be members of Birkbeck staff present in the 'room' who will be able to check in with you if you need to talk or leave the room, please know that they are not trauma trained. The lecture will also include moments of conversation and discursive small group discussions, which attendees don’t have to partake in if they don’t feel able to.

Format of the event:

On the day of the event, we will send you a link to join us on Collaborate, where the lecture and discussions will take place. If you would like to familiarise yourself with the software, we have put together a video guide here.

If you have any questions for molly that you would like to email in advance, send them to

Who is molly ackhurst?

molly has a practice-based background having worked in sexual violence support for many years. This combines with her extensive experience as an activist, writer, and facilitator with a number of different social justice groups. All her work is rooted around creative approaches to trauma and uses emergent arts based methods to foster direct action and everyday intervention. This approach feeds into molly’s academic work and she is currently undertaking a PhD in the Birkbeck Criminology department where she looks at justice and sexual violence. More specifically, her work explores the blockages that exist around imagining more transformative ways of supporting survivors obtain justice outside the criminal “justice” system in the UK.

What is Birkbeck's Big Ideas?

Big Ideas is a series of thought-provoking free public lectures from emerging researchers from Birkbeck, University of London on a wide range of subject areas. The series is run by Birkbeck’s Access and Engagement Department and usually takes place in community venues across London, most recently at Stratford Library. During the COVID-19 lockdown we’ve taken the series online, with help to navigate the online platforms available for those with low digital confidence. The lectures are open to everyone, regardless of previous educational experience. Email us to find out more:

Accessibility information:

Participation in this event will require you to view a video and to log into an online portal called Collaborate to take part in the Q&A session. You can do this on a computer or smartphone. If you would like to familiarise yourself with the software, we have put together a video guide here. If you feel you will need additional support accessing our online resources, please don't hesitate to email us at We are able to provide a digital mentor who can call or video call you to take you through the steps you will need to access this and other online events/training.

Please contact us in advance of the event at if you have any additional accessibility requirements so that we can ensure you will be able to get the most from this event. For some requirements, e.g. BSL interpreters, we may need a few days' notice to make arrangements, so please let us know as soon as possible.


Book your free place here

Contact name:

Further details: More information about this event …