Victims - Definition and Categories

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Criminal law Pages: 14 (5039 words) Published: May 1, 2013
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; and, vinak ti in Sanskrit (Webster’s 1971). In the original meaning of the term, a victim was a man or animal put to death during a religious ceremony in order to appease some supernatural power or deity. Over centuries, the term has picked up additional meanings. Now it commonly refers to individuals who suffer injuries, losses, or hardships, for any reason. People can become victims of accidents, natural calamities, disasters, or social problems such as warfare, discrimination, political witch hunts, and other injustices. Crime victims are people harmed by illegal acts. 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. The term “Victim” has its roots in the early religious notions of suffering, sacrifice and death. This concept of “victim” was well known in the ancient civilizations, especially in Babylonia, Palestine, Greece, and Rome. In each of these civilizations the law mandated that the victim should be recognized as a person who deserved to be made whole again by the offender. The term victim is lacking descriptive precision. It implies more than the mere existence of an injured party, in that innocence or blamelessness is suggested as well as a moral claim to a compassionate response from others. Until recently, victims were not studied. They tended to be seen as passive recipients of the criminal’s greed or anger, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The study of victims, known as Victimology, has resulted in theoretical and research studies, and an awareness of the victim has grown in the public consciousness. There is now recognition that victims have traditionally not been treated particularly well by the criminal justice system. Victims suffer not only during the crime, but that there are also sometimes physical and psychological complications. As per Collins English Dictionary, "victim means a person or thing that suffers harm, death, etc. from another or from some adverse act, circumstance, etc." It is defined in the Black's Law Dictionary as: "the person who is the object of a crime or tort, as the victim of a robbery is the person robbed". According to New Webster's Dictionary, victim means: "a person destroyed, sacrificed, or injured by another, or by some condition or agency; one who is cheated or duped; a living being sacrificed to some deity, or in the performance of a religious rite." When the victimization is caused by violations of human rights law, international humanitarian law, or refugee law, the definition provided in paragraph 8 of the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law is also relevant: “[V]ictims are persons who individually or collectively suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law, or serious violations of international humanitarian law. Where appropriate, and in accordance with domestic law, the term “victim” also includes the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization. The term victim is defined in Oxford English Dictionary as: "Victim is a person who is put to death or subjected to misfortune by another; one who suffers severely in body or property through cruel or oppressive...
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