Historical Background of Victimology

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Chapter I
Historical Background of Victimology
I. Introduction
The nature and extent of victimization is not adequately understood across the world. Millions of people throughout the world suffer harm as a result of crime, the abuse of power, terrorism and other stark misfortunes. Their rights and needs as victims of this harm have not been adequately recognized. The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in 1985. This provides a universal benchmark by which progress can be assessed in meeting the needs of victims of crime and abuse of power. Much progress has been made since 1985 primarily by governments in Western Europe, North America and elsewhere. They have implemented programmes and laws to give effect to those basic principles but even in affluent countries much work remains. Additional resources are needed everywhere especially for countries that are developing and in transition. The convention on transnational organized crime includes a specific section to protect the rights of victims as does the optional protocol on trafficking. By June, 2005, 99 nations had already ratified the Statute of Rome that establishes a permanent International Criminal Court which gives effect to the principles in the Declaration. The rights of the victims of crime and abuse of power are still not adequately recognized in any part of the world. Their families, witnesses and others, who aid them, are still unjustly subjected to loss, damage or injury. They too often suffer hardship when assisting in the prosecution of offenders. The recent UN Congress in Bangkok also drew attention to the victims of terrorism. Victims of stark misfortunes such as natural disasters, accidents and diseases share similar trauma, loss and suffering. Services to meet the needs of victims have much in common between victims of crime, abuse of power and stark misfortunes. Action must be taken to advance research, services and awareness for victims across the world. This requires persons committed to these ideals, better services, more research, innovative education and training and continued advocacy and rights. It requires a process of assessing progress and acting to make the necessary improvements. II. DISCUSSION

I. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF VICTIMOLOGY

A. The Early Roots
The word “victim” has its roots in many ancient languages that covered a great distance from northwestern Europe to the southern tip of Asia and yet had a similar linguistic pattern: victima in Latin; víh, wéoh, wíg in Old European; wíh, wíhi in Old High German; vé in Old Norse; weihs in Gothic; and, vinak ti in Sanskrit (Webster’s 1971).

Victimology as an academic term contains two elements:
• One is the Latin word “Victima” which translates into “victim”. • The other is the Greek word “logos” which means a system of knowledge, the direction of something abstract, the direction of teaching, science, and a discipline. Although writings about the victim appeared in many early works by such criminologists as Beccaria (1764), Lombroso (1876), Ferri (1892), Garófalo (1885), Sutherland (1924), Hentig (1948), Nagel (1949), Ellenberger (1955), Wolfgang (1958) and Schafer (1968), the concept of a science to study victims and the word “victimology” had its origin with the early writings of Beniamin Mendelsohn (1937; 1940), these leading to his seminal work where he actually proposed the term “victimology” in his article “A New Branch of Bio-Psycho-Social Science, Victimology” (1956). It was in this article that he suggested the establishment of an international society of victimology which has come to fruition with the creation of the World Society of Victimology, the establishment of a number of victimological institutes (including the creation in Japan of the Tokiwa International Victimology Institute); and, the establishment of international journals which are now also a part of this institute....
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