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Free the Victim: A Critique of the Western Conception of Victimhood

Free the Victim: A Critique of the Western Conception of Victimhood In Western languages those affected by crime are universally labelled as ‘victims’, meaning the sacrificed ones. According to the author this practice seems to originate from the association of the plight of victims with the suffering of Jesus Christ. In his view, the victim label, although eliciting compassion for victims, assigns to them a social role of passivity and forgiveness that they may increasingly find to be restraining. He analyses the narratives of eleven high-profile victims such as Natascha Kampusch, the couple McCann and Reemtsma to illustrate this thesis. The article continues with a critical review of biases deriving from the unreflexive adoption of the victim label in various schools of thought in victimology and criminal law. Finally, the author argues for the introduction of stronger procedural rights for crime victims in criminal trials and for a new focus within victimology on processes of victim labelling. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Review of Victimology SAGE

Free the Victim: A Critique of the Western Conception of Victimhood

International Review of Victimology , Volume 16 (1): 33 – May 1, 2009

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References (115)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2009 A B Academic Publishers. Printed in Great Britain
ISSN
0269-7580
eISSN
2047-9433
DOI
10.1177/026975800901600101
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In Western languages those affected by crime are universally labelled as ‘victims’, meaning the sacrificed ones. According to the author this practice seems to originate from the association of the plight of victims with the suffering of Jesus Christ. In his view, the victim label, although eliciting compassion for victims, assigns to them a social role of passivity and forgiveness that they may increasingly find to be restraining. He analyses the narratives of eleven high-profile victims such as Natascha Kampusch, the couple McCann and Reemtsma to illustrate this thesis. The article continues with a critical review of biases deriving from the unreflexive adoption of the victim label in various schools of thought in victimology and criminal law. Finally, the author argues for the introduction of stronger procedural rights for crime victims in criminal trials and for a new focus within victimology on processes of victim labelling.

Journal

International Review of VictimologySAGE

Published: May 1, 2009

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