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Concept of Victim | Type of Victims

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Concept of Victim | Type of Victims

“Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. [1]

The term ‘victim’ also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization. [2] As per the Declaration, victim is a person who has been physically, financially, emotionally injured or had their properly taken/damaged by someone by unlawful act. It includes a person as a victim who is directly or indirectly affected by crime.

Victims as a negatively affected persons or group directly and indirectly from the criminal activities. [3] The term ‘victim’ means a person that has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a crime. [4] Such a person may be called a ‘primary victim of crime’. Besides, there are also ‘secondary crime victims’ who suffer harm or injury or harm to the primary crime victim. Victim in crime has no separate entity; he/she is viewed in relationship to the offender. While a crime is in progress, offenders temporarily force their victims to play roles that mimic the dynamics between predator and prey, winner and loser, victor and vanquished and even master and slave. Victimization is an asymmetrical interpersonal relationship that is abusive, painful, destructive, parasitical, and unfair. Many types of victimization have been outlawed over the centuries-specific oppressive and exploitative acts, like raping, robbing, and swindling, etc.

The word ‘victim’ interchangeable to the term ‘survivor’ generally refers to persons who have individually or collectively suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through a criminal offence regardless of whether an offender is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between them. The definition of ‘victim’ also covers family members of the deceased victim, who have suffered harm because of the person’s death directly caused by a criminal offence. The victim’s perspective may be perceived in many societies as complicated, an inconvenient and marginal phenomenon.

In the case of a crime victim who is under 18 years of age, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased, the legal guardians of the crime victim or the representatives of the crime victim’s estate, family members, or any other persons appointed as suitable by the court, may assume the crime victim’s rights under this chapter, but in no event shall the defendant be named as such guardian or representative. [5]

Defining the term ‘Crime Victim’ is of great importance as falling within the purview of ‘crime victim’ is the prime criteria to be eligible for victim compensation. Primarily a victim is a person who is injured as a direct result of an act of violence being committed against him/her.

[1] Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victim of Crime and Abuse of Power (1985), Art. 1 [2] Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victim of Crime and Abuse of Power (1985), Art. 2 [3] Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha, A Step Towards Victim Justice System Nepalese Perspectives (Kathmandu: Paravi Prakashan 2001), 9. [4] Victim’s Rights and Restitution Act, U.S.C (2006), g 1060 e (2). [5] Crime Victims Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. (2004). G 3771, e

Type of Victim

Victim can be categorized mainly into two types, torture victim, who are protected by the safe-guard system like; human rights concept, criminal justice system, open prison provisions, whereas another type of victim that is crime victim, who is socially devastated, economically deprived, physically & mentally tortured and are forgotten in system and are not protected by human rights definition and have no separate justice system.

Different criminologists have given different types of victims on the basis of different criteria Mendelsohn was intrigued with the relationship between the offender and the victim. He referred to this relationship phenomenon as the penal couple;

  • (i) the completely innocent victim,
  • (ii) the victim with minor guilt,
  • (iii) the victim who is as guilty as the offender,
  • (iv) the victim who is guiltier than the offender,
  • (v) the most guilty victim, and
  • (vi) the imaginary victim. [1]

Hans Von Henting with the publication of his book, The Criminal and His Victim, has created a taxonomy that described how victims were responsible for their harms. His schema was based on psychological, social and biological factors. He was also interested in relationship between offender and victim, in what he called the criminal-victim dyad. In 1948, he developed three broad categorizations of victims; (i) General: age, gender, vulnerabilities, (ii) Psychological: depressed, acquisitive, loneliness, (iii) Activating: victim turned offender. Ultimately, Von Hentig, expanded his categories to thirteen categories;

  • (i) the Young,
  • (ii) the Female,
  • (iii) the Old,
  • (iv) the Mentally Defective and Deranged,
  • (v) the Immigrants,
  • (vi) the Minorities,
  • (vii) the Dull Normal,
  • (viii) the Depressed,
  • (ix) the Acquisitive,
  • (x) Wanton,
  • (xi) the Lonessome and the Heartbroken,
  • (xii) the Tormentor, and
  • (xiii) the Blocked, Exempted, or Fighting. [2]

Stephen Schafer Extending the work of Von Hentig, and he has used an ironic change of titles with his book, The Victim and His Criminal. He was also focused on the offender victim interaction and developed a taxonomy based on the victim’s functional responsibility for the crime;

  • (i) Unrelated Victims (no victim responsibility),
  • (ii) Provocative Victims (victim shares responsibility),
  • (iii) Precipitate Victims (some degree of victim responsibility),
  • (iv) Biologically Weak Victims (no victim responsibility),
  • (v) Social Weak Victims (no victim responsibility),
  • (vi) Self-Victimizing (total victim responsibility),
  • (vii) and Political Victim (no victim responsibility). [3]

These three pioneer victimologists, strangely enough, were not focused on the injury caused to the victim by the offender. Their main concern was with the victim’s role in contributing to the crime and in the co-operation of the victim with the criminal justice system. Mendelssohn, in 1976, proposed a different view of victims with his concept of general victimology which considered the source of the victimization. Based on this notion, he listed five types of victimizers;

  • (i) A criminal,
  • (ii) One’s self,
  • (iii) The social environment,
  • (iv) Technology,
  • (v) The natural environment,
  • (vi) Most crime victimologists are also criminologists. [4]

Canadian criminologist Abdel Fattah has classified victims of crime into five major categories; [5]

  • (i) Non-participating victims,
  • (ii) Latent victims,
  • (iii) Provocative victims,
  • (iv) Participating victims,
  • (v) the defiant or retaliating victims.

Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha has classified victims as:

  • (i) The young (they are weak and the most likely to be a victim of an attack),
  • (ii) The female (the female sex is another form of weakness recognized by the law),
  • (iii) The old (he elder generation is physically weak and monthly feeble),
  • (iv) The mentally defective (the feeble minded the insane Large Class of Victims),
  • (v) Immigrants Minorities and dull Normal (immigration causes a temporary feeling of helplessness in vital relations). [6]

He further classes victim into the psychological types, such as; The depressed, The Acquisitive, The lonesome and the Heartbroken, The Tormentor, The Blocked exempted and fighting are the psychological Types of victims. [7] Another classification of victims: (a) Victim of crime (b) Victim of abuse

[1] John P.J. Dussich, “The Challenges of Victimology Past, Present & Future”, The United Nations Asia and Far East Institute, accessed August 5, 2016, http://www.unafei.or.jp/english/pdf/Rs_No81/No81_09VE_Dussich.pdf. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Ahuja, Criminology, 668-69. [6] Shrestha A Step Towards Victim Justice System, 46-47. [7] Dr. Shankar Kumar Shrestha, Victim Jurisprudence (Kathmandu: Pairavi Prakashan, 2062), 8.

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