The term victimology signifies a study of victims of crime. It identifies the role or contribution of the victim in the commission of the crime. We have seen many cases in which the conduct of the victim and his negligence contributed to the commission of crime thereby attributing proportional criminal liability to him. In recent times victimology is gaining the attention of criminologists as it probes into the traits of the victims and the offenders.
Aspects of victimology- The following are the major aspects of the study of victimology-
How do victims fall prey to the criminals?
Precautionary measures to be taken to avoid victimization.
How the victims of the crimes be protected?
FACTORS INDICATING VICTIM’S CONTRIBUTION IN CRIME-
There are many factors by which victims directly or indirectly contribute to the commission of crimes against themselves. These factors are as follows-
- Trusting strangers– Many people who are either too frank or too emotional or over-sensitive share their problems with strangers thereby making themselves easy targets. These strangers after gaining the trust and confidence of the victim either cause them financial loss or physical harm.
- Superstition– Many of us have been influenced by superstition for a long time and especially the rural people living in villages practice it openly. Such innocent people are instigated and misguided by fraud sages who ask the people to offer human sacrifices to please God so that he fulfill their wishes. People getting carried away by the sayings of these so-called sages even resort to killing children in the name of offering a gift to please god.
- Greed– Many fraud schemes and offers to make fake promises of gaining high profit in the future influence people to invest their hard-earned money in such schemes. Offers such as to invest in our scheme and double your money in a very short time without working drive people to the extent of being fooled that they do not even question the authenticity of such schemes and offers and end up losing the money invested by them.
- The financial crisis in the family– Many times when the only earning member or the head of the family finds that he has suffered a huge loss in business or has lost his job or is unable to repay huge debts taken by him he may resort to poising his family members and then committing suicide. Such people may also indulge in crimes such as theft, robbery, extortion to earn easy money and at times parents even ask their children to work in factories and mines thereby resulting in child labor.
- Socio-legal issues– In India, most of us live our life according to customs and traditions. We know that the cases of female foeticide increasing in most of the parts of the country. The in-laws of a married woman want their daughter-in-law to give birth to a male child who can be their legal heir in the future. Failure to give birth to a son by a woman results in illegal-abortion, wife-beating, harassment, physical assault, mental torture by husband and in-laws.
- Psychological disorder– Many people suffering from mental diseases or disorders thereby having intellectual disability become easy targets and victims of physical, sexual assault, theft, robbery, murder, kidnapping.
- Age factor– We know that children are more vulnerable and innocent than adults so they easily trust others increasing their chances of being sexually and physically assaulted and made to beg on road. Further, elderly people because of lack of strength are subject to physical abuse and domestic violence. They are ill-treated, insulted, thrown out of their home, send to old age home, or are left on road to die.
- Uncivil habits– Spitting on roads, urinating, throwing garbage in river water, factories creating immense air pollution, playing loud music, or using loudspeakers near schools, hospitals and colleges are common mistakes practiced by us which eventually harm us thereby making us victims of our crimes.
- Provocation– Many times during an argument the victim may provoke the other person to harm him by challenging his manhood or masculinity. On being provoked people even end up assaulting or committing murder.
- Other factors– Flaunting wealth thereby inviting others to commit crimes such as robbery, theft, extortion, negligence on the part of the victim by not taking ordinary preventive measures against criminals, running away from home thereby making one-self easy victim for the criminals.
CAUSES OF VICTIMS NOT REPORTING CRIMES:
One of the most important aspects of victimology is the reluctance of the victims to report crimes to the police. The following are the reasons for the non-reporting of crimes-
- Most of the victims have an indifferent attitude because of which they do not bother to report cases to the police.
- If the victim does not know the identity of the offender he mostly prefers to not report the crime.
- In cases where the loss suffered by the victim is petty, he does not bother to take the effort to report the case to the police.
- Crimes such as rape, illegal abortions, Sex offences inflict social and public indignation on the victim so the victim tries to hide the commission of such crimes by not reporting them.
- In cases where victims find criminal justice unfair with agonizing and humiliating long procedures, victims fail to report them to the police.
- Victims have a fear of loss of money and time because of prolonged criminal trials so they avoid reporting crimes.
- Many victims fear that nobody will have the courage to testify as a witness of their cases or the possibility of witnesses turning hostile.
- Many victims do not have faith in the police or judicial authorities so they don’t report crimes against themselves.
- Victims fear that the culprit may take revenge from him if he dares to file a case against the culprit or fear harassment by the police because of which they don’t report cases.
MEASURES TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF CRIMES:
- Spreading education and awareness among the people about how the criminals are making people fall prey to their crimes.
- Proper police patrolling helps curb the crime rate as it creates fear in the minds of the criminals of being caught.
- Intensive programs and propaganda should be run by the government informing people about conduct violating laws.
- Mass-media should be used to create awareness among the people about various common and new crimes, new ways adopted by the criminals to make people victims of their crimes.
- The police and judicial authorities should have a sympathetic attitude towards the victims so that the victims of crimes can trust them and freely report crimes.
- Every citizen should be realized his responsibility to not only report cases of crimes committed against them but also report cases of crimes committed on others in their presence.
- The victims of crimes should be treated with dignity and respect by the police authorities.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that study of victimology helps in preventing crimes and dispensing proper justice. A study conducted by Shultz showed that a victim cannot always be presumed to be innocent and similarly offender should not alone be considered guilty. Thus, we can conclude that the study of victimology by criminologists should be encouraged and the recommendations given by the criminologist to stop victimization should be properly implemented.