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Victim blaming

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 9 months ago

Victim blame

 

"Victim blaming" is holding the victim of a crime to be in whole or in part responsible for what has happened to them. In the context of rape, this concept refers to popular attitudes that certain victim behaviours (such as flirting, or wearing sexually-provocative clothing) may encourage rape. In extreme cases, victims are said to have "asked for it", simply by not behaving demurely. In most Western countries, the defense of provocation is not accepted as a mitigation for rape, although in Sweden this happens almost routinely, and questions about the victim's clothing and behaviour is present in almost all rape trials. This has raised a lot of attention among the public and the press. Despite several changes in the legislation, little has changed, possible due to the impact of the courts' personal opinions and views that have a large effect on the verdict in the Swedish judicial system.

 


 

Just world hypothesis

It has been proposed that one cause of victim-blaming is the "Just World Hypothesis". People who believe that the world has to be fair, may find it hard or impossible to accept a situation in which a person is unfairly and badly hurt for no cause or reason. This leads to a sense that, somehow, the victim must have surely done 'something' to deserve their fate. Another theory entails the need to protect one's own sense of invulnerability. This inspires people to believe that rape only happens to those who deserve or provoke the assault (Schneider et. al., 1994). This is a way of feeling safer. If the potential victim avoids the behaviours of the past victims then they themselves will remain safe and feel less vulnerable. A global survey of attitudes toward sexual violence by the Global Forum for Health Research shows that victim-blaming concepts are at least partially accepted in many countries. In some countries, victim-blaming is more common, and women who have been raped are sometimes deemed to have behaved improperly. Often, these are countries where there is a significant social divide between the freedoms and status afforded to men and women.

 

Mainstream view

A more mainstream view is that everybody has the theoretical right to feel safe at all times, but that the responsibility of preventing and minimising the risk of being in a dangerous situation is largely up to the individual. On this basis, the question is not whether the victim "deserved" to be raped, because nobody "deserves" to be the victim of crime, but rather whether the individual did choose to prevent or minimize the risk of being in a dangerous situation and/or the risk of harm in a dangerous situation.

 

Date rape

 

Under cases of alleged date rape, however, the situation is different. Because the question at hand is whether or not the incident was consensual, or whether the alleged victim encouraged the accused or gave implied consent, becomes the critical consideration. As such, arguments about the victim's conduct are an accepted element of an affirmative defense.

 

US Law

 

In the United States, rape is unique in that it is the only crime in which there are statutory protections designed in favor of the victim (known as "Rape Shield Laws"). These were enacted in response to the common defense tactic of "putting the victim on trial". Typical rape shield laws prohibit cross-examination of the victim with respect to issues, such as his or her prior sexual history, or the manner in which he or she was dressed at the time of the rape. Most states and the federal rules, however, provide exceptions to the rape shield law where evidence of prior sexual history is used to provide an alternative explanation for physical evidence, where the defendant and the victim had a prior consensual sexual relationship, and where exclusion of evidence would violate the defendant's constitutional rights.

 

There are different categories of crime. Car theft, for example, would be a property offense whereas rape would be a violent crime. One cannot steal a person as they are not property but a human being. This is also known as 'crimes against persons'.

 

 

see also: Just World Hypothesis, victim's rights amendment, Katie Roiphe

 

References

 

  • Lamb, Sharon, The Trouble with Blame: Victims, Perpetrators and Responsibility, Harvard Univ Press, 1999.
  • Madigan, L. and Gamble, N. (1991). The Second Rape: Society's Continued Betrayal of the Victim. New York: Lexington Books.
  • Murray JD, Spadafore JA, McIntosh WD. (2005) Belief in a just world and social perception: evidence for automatic activation. J Soc Psychol. Feb;145(1):35-47.
  • Frese, B., Moya, M., & Megius, J. L. (2004). Social Perception of Rape: How Rape Myth Acceptance Modulates the Influence of Situational Factors. Journal-of-Interpersonal-Violence, 19(2), 143-161.
  • Pauwels, B. (2002). Blaming the victim of rape: The culpable control model perspective. Dissertation-Abstracts-International:-Section-B:-The-Sciences-and-Engineering, 63(5-B)
  • Blumberg, M. & Lester, D. (1991). High school and college students' attitudes toward rape. Adolescence, 26(103), 727-729.
  • Shaver, . (2002). Attribution of rape blame as a function of victim gender and sexuality, and perceived similarity to the victim. Journal of Homosexuality, 43(2)
  • Anderson , K. J. & Accomando, C. (1999). Madcap Misogyny and Romanticized Victim-Blaming: Discourses of Stalking in There's Something About Mary. Women & Language, 1, 24-28.
  • The effect of participant sex, victim dress, and traditional attitudes on causal judgments for marital rape victims. (Author Abstract). Mark A. Whatley. Journal of Family Violence 20.3 (June 2005): p191(10).
  • Kay, Aaron C., Jost, John T. & Young, Sean (2005) Victim Derogation and Victim Enhancement as Alternate Routes to System Justification. Psychological Science 16 (3), 240-246.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "rape".

 

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