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Victimology: Individuals & Terms as They Relate to the Study

Menachem Amir

Menachem Amir is best known for his controversial and sensational study of rape. He collected huge data from the police achieves and reported that out of the total number of rape committed about 19% was induced or provoked by the victim herself and the victim participated in the act. Amir presented a list of such acts where it was found that the victim retracted from the actual act just before the start of the act. However, he mentioned several causes for such occurrence including alcohol consumption. He also mentioned that seductive acts, revealing clothes and languages were the cause of the crime where the victim found herself at the wrong time and the wrong place.

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Beniamin Mendelsohn

Benjamin Mendelsohn is regarded as the ‘father of victimology’. He was the one to indicate that there is a possible existence of interpersonal relations between the victim and the committer. He also formulated six levels of the victim by the instigation of a crime. The first step was ‘complete innocence’ where the victim had no provocation to the crime. The second level is ‘victim with minor guilt’. The third level is ‘victim as guilty as the offender’ and then there is ‘voluntary victim’. The fifth level indicates a victim who is guiltier than the offender and is directly involved in instigating the crime. The sixth level is the ‘imaginary victim’. Here the victim pretends that a crime has been committed against. Benjamin Mendelsohn is the person who coined the term ‘victimology’. (Doerner and Lab, 2008)

Lex talionis

Lex talionis is the Latin term for a justice system that demands ‘an eye for an eye. This form of the justice system was followed during ancient times and is found in the justice of Moses or the code of Hammurabi. The Romans followed the same principles. This system holds the offender to be personally responsible for the crime and that is committed against others. This can be very harsh in a modern context. The main theory behind this system is that once such punishment is carried out; there would be little chance of a second offense. During the feudal society, this system came to an end with feudal lords demanding money as compensation for a crime committed.

Victim precipitation

Victim precipitation indicates the degree of responsibility in the context of the victim and the amount of instigation of the crime by the victim. However, there is no empirical classification or strict topography even though victimology scholars like Beniamin Mendelsohn or Menachem Amir worked on the subject. This is a twilight zone of the theory related to victimology and it is yet to be formulated in a proper and evidence-based manner.

Victim justice system

The victim justice system is the fundamental goal of the study of victimology. There are several tendencies or from of the Victim justice system and each is concerned about the parameters or range of inclusion of victims. This justice system is the mode of justice that evaluates the crime from the parameter of the victim and by its various tendencies, it can cover an individual or a society as a whole.

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution marks the end of the medieval age and due to the high demand for urbanization people were forced to relocate and resettle. As a result, neighbors became unknown to each other and thus inter-relation became weak. Thus, the old system of victim justice seize to exist and the modern criminal justice system. This fundamental error of the modern criminal justice system is that it is more concerned about the penalization of the victim than the welfare of the victim and the Industrial revolution marks the growth of this tendency.

Various factors contributing to the victims’ movement

There are several factors associated with victim movements.

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One of the foremost of these movements is the women’s movement. This movement took place during the civil rights movement during the 1960s. Within various parameters of reforms, the women’s movement found strong arguments in favor of the victim movement concerning women.

Another such movement was the Child’s right movement. This took shape as a part of victimology during the 1960s because it was the time when child abuse was recognized as a social problem. It also categorized children as a new class of victims.

Victim compensation was another such important movement. This movement made it possible for the victim to receive compensation due to the loss by the state. Margery Fry of the UK was the key leader of this movement in 1957.

The growing crime problem and legal reforms are two factors that made the movement of victimology possible. With the increased rate of crime, it became necessary for the authorities to step up and act in favor of the victim, and simultaneously, the legal reforms were enforced to control the increasing crime rates. Thus, it became mandatory to look up at criminal justice system from a new angle and this is the main factor of the development and the enactment of the theory of victimology.


Doerner, W.G. and Lab, S.P. (2008). Victimology. 5th ed. NY: LexisNexis Anderson Publishing.

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