What is Victimology?
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History of Victimology
Michael O’Connell Commissioner for Victims’ Rights TOT Victimology & Victim Assistance LPSK 18-28 Maret 2013
Lecture Outline • What is Victimology? Definition as explanation will be in lecture on Scope of Victimology • What is the Golden Age of the Victim? • When did Criminologists discover the Victim? • What is the ‘traditional view’ on the beginnings of Victimology? • How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings?
What is Victimology? • Victima – meaning, a person (or animal) killed or sacrificed to a god or gods; a person injured or destroyed by another person, and also a ‘scapegoat’) • ‘ology’ meaning study of, so victimology is the study of the victim, victimisation, reactions and effects of victimisation
If victimology could distinguish scientifically accurate and verifiable knowledge from non-scientific then it would attain the status of a social science (O’Connell 2008) • Social science - to diagnose the situation, to interpret the situation, to prevent undesired situations and to suggest ways of creating desired situations (Holyst 1982)
What is the Golden Age of the Victim? • Early Babylonian Law Code: Approximately 4500 years ago ‘Code of UrNammu’: • Provided for ‘restitution’ (paid by the wrong-doer to the wronged) as a punishment • Recognised ‘vulnerable persons’ (that is orphans and widows) who needed to be protected from abuse by the powerful (including the rich people) • Empowered the victim to choose an alternative punishment to that of an ‘eye for eye’ • Allowed the victim to severe the nose of the offender
What is the Golden Age of the Victim? • Early Babylonian Law Code: Approximately 4000 years ago ‘Code of Hammurabi’: • Authorised the State to be “the shepherd of the oppressed and of slaves” • Provided that the “strong should not harm the weak” • Stated that if the ‘robber’ is not captured and prosecuted the State is liable to the loss suffered by the victim • Obliged the person who injured or maimed another person’s ox to ‘restore’ by act and deed the victim until the ox was well or replaced.
What is the Golden Age of the Victim? Decline of victim-oriented criminal justice: Anglo-Saxon – communal courts and ‘restitution’ Norman Law and the concept of the “King’s Peace” State-centred Criminal Justice System “The so-called ‘golden era in victims’ rights was not necessarily just for all crime victims. Rather, for most victims justice was beyond their reach. The investigation and prosecution were time consuming and expensive. Legal expertise was required to navigate the complexities of the legal process. By the mid 19th century the State had largely replaced victims with a centralised police force and public prosecutors. Arguably, disenfranchised victims, such as the poor, benefited from the shift to a criminal justice system intended to serve the public interest.”
When did Criminologists discover the Victim? • Cesare Beccaria (1738 – 1794): Essay on ‘excessive’ (that is ‘not justified’) application of the criminal law Argued for the protection of accused (and guilty) people who were ‘victims’ of arbitrary decisions and excessive application • Victims of the criminal justice system • Victims of the legal order
Acknowledged that all members of a society could be victims of the law and those tasked with administering the law Victims of abuse of power
When did Criminologists discover the Victim? • Kirchhoff (2012) points to several conferences and seminars held towards the end of the nineteenth century. He says people at these ‘gatherings’ examined issues relevant to victimology: Offender paid restitution – How can the victim attain restitution? Should restitution be a criminal punishment? State paid compensation – Should the State pay when the offender cannot pay restitution? Should a proportion of the revenue collected as fines by the State be paid to as victim compensation?
When did Criminologists discover the Victim? • Law Reform Commission of Italy (1922): Criminal procedure as a ‘triangulation of interests’ Criminologists discuss ‘compensation’ rather than ‘restitution’
• La Proteccion a la victimas del delito (1929) – a collection of papers compiled in Cuba. Writers explore many issues including: Victims’ sufferings The state as a perpetrator (or producer of victims)
When did Criminologists discover the Victim? • Edwin Sutherland (1923) published the first edition of his textbook on criminology. In 1924 he revised that textbook and inserted a chapter on ‘The victim’. Kirchhoff (2012) describes the chapter as “quite basic”. He adds that the chapter mentions several categories (or kinds) of victims and deals with the ‘costs of crime’.
• Ernst Seeling (1929) proposed that victims do not necessarily want punishment; rather they want ‘restitution’ (that is for the victimiser to correct the wrong he or she has done to the victim). Kirchhoff (2012) explains that Seeling believed that victims who report crime are ‘co-opted’ into a criminal process that is daunting, stressful and pre-occupied with legal notions of justice.
What is the ‘traditional view’ on the beginnings of Victimology? • Victimology as a science was first conceived by Beniamin Mendelshon (1940; 1963) who proposed a new science that would be the ‘reverse’ of criminology. • Instead of studying the criminal, the intended focus would be the ‘victimal’. In 1957 (see also 1963) he altered his stance and argued instead for a ‘general victimology’ (the scientific study of the victim of everything).
What is the ‘traditional view’ on the beginnings of Victimology? • At about the same time, Hans von Hentig (1940) considered the victim’s role in the causation of crime. • In The Victim and His Criminal von Hentig (1948) identified ‘victimisation’ as a social process. He argued that the ‘attacker’ and the ‘attacked’ mould and form each other.
What is the ‘traditional view’ on the beginnings of Victimology? • Although Mendelshon and von Hentig are seen as the founders of victimology, Fattah (1994, 2000) claims that it was Werthem (1949) who coined the word victimology, • Werthem (1949) argued for a new science that concentrated on murderers’ victims, so his scope of victimology was narrow, especially when compared with recent discussions on the scope of victimology. • Sparkes (1982, p22) calls victimology an “inelegant term”, which Cressey (1988, p43) says “is easy to say” (Cressey 1988, p43).
What is the ‘traditional view’ on the beginnings of Victimology? • Sparkes (1982) says that despite both – Mendelsohn and von Hentig - devising their own ‘typology of victims’, it is likely that von Hentig would have “vigorously rejected Mendelshon’s proposal that “there is a point in the scientific study of victims” (p22).
• Nevertheless, the proposal gained momentum among criminologists and other social scientists (van Dijk 1999; Fattah 2000).
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • Willem Nagel (1944) studied crime in Oss and later wrote about ‘structural victimisation’ (that is the victimising power of social structures). • Marvin Wolfgang (1957) in a study on homicide wrote about ‘victim precipitation’ (that is the victim ‘bringing about or contributing to his or her demise’) • Menachem Amir (1967, 1975) in a study on victims of rape suggested ‘victim precipitation’ might be a cause of such crime (but his thesis was denounced as ‘victim-blaming’) “Amir dared to assert that there was some reciprocal action between the rape victim and the rapist, which (as explained later) became the object of hostile rebuke.” (O’Connell 2008)
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • Stephen Schafer (1968) proposed the theory of ‘functional responsibility’. He argued that victims often contribute to crime by their negligence, precipitation, or provocation. Von Hentig’s influence is evident in Schafer’s theory. • Life-style theory (Hindelang, Gottfredson & Garofalo 1978; Gottfredson & Hindelang 1981) and routine activity theory (Cohen & Felson 1979) illustrate that acknowledging that some people are prone to victimisation can shape efforts to prevent victimisation.
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • Rock (2002) calls the formative victimological scholars “proto-victimologists” and accuses them of being “not much more than abstracted empiricists searching for a theory, a language and academic legitimacy” (Rock 2002, p3). • The proto-victimologists fuelled new perspectives leading to new insights about victims and crime. Criminology, which had been offender oriented, gained from the evolving knowledge but victimology still struggles for acceptance as the unique ‘scientific endeavour’ that Mendelsohn and Werthem had advocated (O’Connell 2008).
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • A cursory glance at several authoritative victimology texts highlights the theories that constitute victimology; in particular, criminal victimology.
• It also shows the many discernible and complex influences in the field of victimology. • Furthermore, sociologists, criminologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists, lawyers and others share that field as they probe the depths and breadth of all aspects of victimisation. • Notably most academics who claim to be victimologists, or who have at least shown an interest in victimology as a science, have been influenced by more than one ‘school’ and more than one discipline. • These and other pointers present as challenges for victimology if it is to become a social science in its own right.
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • The introduction of state-funded victim compensation (financial assistance) schemes • The advent of victim surveys (local, national and international) • The beginnings of the ‘victim movement’ • The application of alternative dispute resolution, mediation and (recently) restorative justice to augment (or be alternatives to) criminal justice systems • The development of victim assistance programmes (for example LPSK in 2008)
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • The founding of victimological societies (such as the Indonesia Society of Victimology founded in 2011) • The tri-annual international symposia and many conferences, seminars (for example LPSK conference on human trafficking in Bali 2012) • The promulgation of victims’ rights instruments (for example Indonesia law on victims and witnesses, and victims of disasters) • The conduct of courses on victimology and victim assistance (such as the WSV post-graduate course in Indonesia in 2011 and LPSK TOT on victimology and victim assistance in 2013)
How has Victimology evolved since those beginnings? • The establishment of victimology research centres (for example, INTERVICT and TIVI) • The acceptance of victimology as a unique discipline of academic study (for example, Master and Doctorate in both INTERVICT and TIVI) • The evolution of the SCOPE OF VICTIMOLOGY
The History of Victimology
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