Redemption is a term which is used in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Gilead and seems to denote some forms of non-lethal punitive sentences. People who run afoul of the Divine Republic's laws can be "sentenced to redemption" or sentenced "to find redemption", which paraphrases a penal corporal mutilation. A woman can also be reclassified as Handmaid as a way to "redeem" herself.
At the time of Gilead's inception, divorce and other non-marital sexual relationships were outlawed. Women who had been married for the second time saw their marriage contracts retroactively nullified and were declared guilty of adultery, a public offense in the new legal system. While infertile divorcee women were executed or else deported to the Colonies, fertile divorced women were forcibly enrolled into the Handmaid program and tasked to bear children for barren couples loyal to the new regime. June Osborne is one such woman.
Examples of Penal "Redemption" Edit
It hasn't been confirmed yet whether Redemption is a general glossed term for other forms of penal mutilation, e.g. when women who are caught reading or writing have a hand or finger removed. However, Commander Putnam, who was found guilty of adultery, is sentenced "to find redemption" by having his left arm amputated up to the elbow.
Handmaids convicted of other crimes such as Gender Treachery are forced to undergo a clitoridectomy (removal of the clitoris). It is used as an alternative punishment for Handmaids whom "God has seen fit to make[...]fertile", rather than execution as applied to other social classes such as Marthas. The punishment prevents Handmaids from experiencing sexual pleasure (or makes it more difficult at the least) whilst keeping their reproductive organs intact; thus preventing or discouraging Handmaids from committing the 'sin' of fornication or Gender Treachery. Aunt Lydia specifically states the circumcision is intended to 'help' the Handmaid stop wanting "what she cannot have".
The only known instance of this occurs in the television adaption, when Emily Malek, as Ofglen, was found guilty of Gender Treachery with a Martha. Because she is still capable of bearing children, she is sentenced to "Redemption", whilst her lover is hanged at a makeshift construction site. This sentence is carried out in a medical clinic, she realizes what has been done to her when she wakes up following the operation and finds her groin heavily bandaged.