Criminology
In spite of victimology being an area of study under criminology, the two differ in the aspects that they are concerned with.

Victim Blaming Versus Victim Defending

 

Criminology is largely concerned with investigating reasons as to why individuals commit criminal activities whereas victimology deals with establishing causes that make victims, for example, individuals, businesses, and households targets of criminal activities (Karmen, 2012). Thus, victimology is interested in establishing the roots of vulnerability and deals with how social, economic, and political situations make people commit crimes (Karmen, 2012).
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Victim Blaming

Victimology is divided into two spheres, namely victim blaming and victim defending. These two aspects arose because not all victims are the same. Victim types range from those who are totally innocent to those who deserve to be victims of their situations (Conaway, n.d). In victim blaming, the victim is partially or fully blamed for their abusive treatment or wrongful conduct committed against them (Conaway, n.d). Traditionally, this type of act was seen in feminist and racist societies, but it continues to be popular nowadays. It can appear in the form of a negative social reaction from the society/community, mental health professionals, immediate family members, and the media (Virpi et al., 2010). Psychologists and other professionals have argued that the way in which a victim is perceived and treated is also determined by religion, culture, and sexuality (Karmen, 2012).

There are a number of factors that lead to victim blaming. Such factors include seductive behavior and clothing, drug use, drinking, reputation, and the location of a victim (Conaway, n.d). An example of a victim blaming situation is the case of a thirteen-year-old girl who was raped by four Palestinian boys (Ramirez, 2013). This case had been appealed; Israeli judge Nissim Yeshaya, in his ruling, claimed that the girl loved the rape and enjoyed it (Ramirez, 2013). However, uproar was expected, and the court apologized for the comments, but damage had already been done. In response, Miriam Scheler of the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crime Center claimed that victims do not trust the system anymore, because the same system that is expected to protect them condemns them instead (Ramirez, 2013).

When finding solutions to victim blaming, one needs to first understand the reasons as to why a certain victim was abused or injured in a crime (Henning & Holdford, 2006). According to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, once this is possible, solutions which include challenging victim-blaming statements, not agreeing to abuser’s reasons as to why they committed a certain crime, and holding abusers accountable for their actions will be influential to victim blaming (CFRAA, 2013). Other solutions to victim blaming include not allowing it in the media and acknowledging survivors (CFRAA, 2013).

Victim Defending

Victim defending is opposite to victim blaming and challenges that it is not fair and accurate to hold victims responsible for the situations that befell them (La Veist et al., 2000). Thus, victim defending totally disagrees with the idea that some victims are responsible for becoming victims of the situations through arguing that warning people to be more careful in the things they do, because they may find themselves in trouble, is not a right solution. Thus, in courts, lawyers try as much as they can to defend victims by pulling them away from the blame of the crime or situation by convincing the judge(s) and the jury (La Veist et al., 2000). Mostly, the lawyers use expert witnesses in such cases. However, the use of expert witnesses has been strongly contested in courts and by criminal laws as the witnesses are often paid for the job (La Veist et al., 2000).

However, victim defending faces some difficulties as a process, because when dealing with a victim or complainant, cross-examiners employ strategies like assessing the complainant, trapping the complainant, discrediting the complainant, using and challenging medical evidence, and exploiting on inconsistency to suggest that there are possible fabrications in the case. An example provided by Crime Victims Updates (n.d) explains that in the case of the rise of smartphone robberies, victim defending, victim blaming, and system blaming will be different in their arguments. Victim blaming will explain that the victims whose phone was snatched should have been more cautious with their gadgets (Crime Victims Updates, n.d). Victim defending will argue out that the individual whose phone was snatched or stolen did not do anything wrong by using their gadget or walking around with it (Crime Victims Updates, n.d). On the other side, system blaming will lay some of the blame on the gadget manufactures for the loss of their customers’ phones (Crime Victims Updates, n.d). Victim defending does not need solutions, but for it to be upheld successfully, solutions concerning victim blaming need to be upheld to the letter.

System Blaming

System blaming is another sociological approach that counters victim blaming and victim defending by pointing out that the social structure is partially responsible for social problems that befall human beings (Holden, 2009). It bases its argument on the dysfunctions of social institutions and their failure to manage safety. System blaming shifts blame from an individual who has committed a crime instead focusing on the society that possibly made the individual commit the crime (Holden, 2009). For example, in a hospital setting, some people are unable to settle their bills due to various personal or other reasons. However, system blaming puts the guilt on the institution. In such a scenario, it claims that the individual who was unable to settle the bill did so, because the healthcare facility has made payment methods and modes difficult (Holden, 2009). The solution to this approach is servicing and polishing of institutions so that they can be able to produce efficient results and serve communities accordingly (Holden, 2009). This achievement will minimize the manner in which humans perceive things and thus reduce the number of social crimes.

Conclusion

Victim blaming, victim defending, and system blaming are all aspects which have been brought by reluctant laws regarding offenders and protection of victim rights. However, this can be reversed if law and policy makers revise on the laws so as to strengthen victim defending through stringent measures that will discourage victim and system blaming. This can be achieved if the solutions provided regarding victim blaming are upheld to the letter. In addition, their upholding will discourage offenders from engaging in such offences since they will know that there is no law at all which safeguards their actions in whatsoever manner but strict punishment.

References

CFRAA. (2013). Avoiding victim blaming. Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness:

Education Training Action. Retrieved from: http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/avoiding-victim-blaming/

Conaway, E. Victim Blaming. Master’s thesis, California State University. Retrieved from http://www.csustan.edu/honors/documents/journals/entries/Conaway.pdf

Crime Victims Update. (n.d). Victim blaming versus victim defending. Crime Victims Update.

Retrieved from: http://www.crimevictimsupdates.com/?page_id=809

Henning, K., & Holdford, R. (2006). Minimization, denial, and victim blaming by batterers.

How much does the truth matter?. Criminal Justice and Behavior33(1), 110-130.

Holden, R. J. (2009). People or systems? To blame is human. The fix is to engineer. Professional

safety54(12), 34.

Karmen, A. (2012). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology. Cengage Learning.

LaVeist, T. A., Sellers, R., & Neighbors, H. W. (2000). Perceived racism and self and system

blame attribution: consequences for longevity. Ethnicity & disease11(4), 711-721.

Ramirez, X. (2013, June 13). 5 instances of victim blaming that will make you want to

scream. Care 2 Make a Difference. Retrieved from: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-instances-of-victim-blaming-that-will-make-you-want-to-scream.html

Virpi, P. ?., Juvonen, J., & Salmivalli, C. (2010). What does it take to stand up for the victim of bullying?: The interplay between personal and social factors. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly56(2), 143-163.