What is Victimology?

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
• 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
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
• 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
• 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
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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,
• 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
• A cursory glance at several authoritative victimology texts highlights
the theories that constitute victimology; in particular, criminal
• 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
• The introduction of state-funded victim compensation
(financial assistance) schemes
• The advent of victim surveys (local, national and
• 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
• 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
• 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
• The evolution of the SCOPE OF VICTIMOLOGY
The History of Victimology
Terima kasi
Selamt pagi

similar documents