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5 - Victimology

Services and Rights for Victims of Domestic and International Crimes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2014

Jan van Dijk
Affiliation:
University of Tilburg/Intervict, Netherlands
Jo-Anne Wemmers
Affiliation:
Université de Montréal, Canada
Mangai Natarajan
Affiliation:
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

In modern times there was in Western countries almost no place for the victims of crime in criminal justice. The victim had become the forgotten third party of the criminal trial. Likewise criminologists exclusively focused their studies on offenders and largely ignored the role and problems of victims. The first publications on victims dealt with the role of victims in the causation of crimes. The focus of these studies was on the degree of guilt of the victims for the crime committed against them (e.g., provocative behavior). This early interest in the culpability of victims has later been critiqued as manifestations of “victim blaming.” The inclination to blame victims of serious crimes for their misfortune has itself been the subject of social psychological studies. Experiments by Lerner and others have revealed that victims of serious crimes often elicit negative responses from their environment because their situation poses an acute threat to the fundamental belief in a just world. By assuming that the victim bears some responsibility for his or her victimization through irresponsible behavior, others can reassure themselves that they have nothing to fear for themselves.

Around 1970 grassroots organizations discovered the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence and began to provide services for them such as shelter homes and rape crisis centers. Around the same time some criminologists took up an interest in the situation of crime victims as a special research topic. Victimization surveys revealed not only that many victimizations were never reported to the police (the dark numbers of crime) but also that many reporting victims were dissatisfied with the way their cases were handled by the authorities. A sizeable minority of reporting victims even complained that they had been retraumatized by their treatment by the police and the criminal justice system (secondary victimization). Soon an international movement came into being, lobbying for improved services for victims and for the introduction of victims’ rights in criminal procedure (Walklate, 2007; Wemmers, 2003).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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References

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Erez, E. (2000). Integrating a Victim Perspective in Criminal Justice through Victim Impact Statements. In Crawford, A. & Goodey, J. (Eds.), Integrating a Victim Perspective within Criminal Justice. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 165–85.Google Scholar
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  • Victimology
  • Edited by Mangai Natarajan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: International Crime and Justice
  • Online publication: 05 October 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511762116.009
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  • Victimology
  • Edited by Mangai Natarajan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: International Crime and Justice
  • Online publication: 05 October 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511762116.009
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Victimology
  • Edited by Mangai Natarajan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: International Crime and Justice
  • Online publication: 05 October 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511762116.009
Available formats
×