Victimization Of The Individual: The Unreported Crimes Due To Their Private Nature

Priyanshu Kumar

30 Nov 2021 11:07 AM GMT

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  • Victimization Of The Individual: The Unreported Crimes Due To Their Private Nature

    Throughout the history of victim and crimes, victim's role has been shifting from time to time. At first, victims and their family were forced to deal with the issue and responsible for seeking justice on their own, but the world shifted from Middle Ages to Industrial revolution age, the burden of dealing with issue shifted from victim and their family to a formal criminal justice...

    Throughout the history of victim and crimes, victim's role has been shifting from time to time. At first, victims and their family were forced to deal with the issue and responsible for seeking justice on their own, but the world shifted from Middle Ages to Industrial revolution age, the burden of dealing with issue shifted from victim and their family to a formal criminal justice system. Now the focus has shifted from victim to achieve retribution to offender, to victims contributes to their own victimization.

    Victimology as a study of people who have experienced injury, also includes research on different types of victims who are victims of rape and sexual assault, intimate partner violence, robbery, burglary, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking, and others. Most of victimologists mostly focused their research on the victims who experienced injury as explained traditionally, like women and children, but never focused on the victims of LGBTQ+ and elders.

    According to United States' Bureau of Justice Statistic has included all violent victimization (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, or simple assault), assault and personal theft under definition of Individual victimization or personal victimization.[1] Victimization of Individual can include child-to-parent violence, elder abuse, sexual and violent victimization of jail and prison inmates.[2] Human trafficking inclusive of sex work and forced labor, same-sex intimate partner violence, and recurring victimization. The age, sex, race, sex, and marital status of an individual has a significant role in case of violent victimization. According to the National Family Health Survey conducted in 2015-2016, 99% cases of sexual assaults on women and children go unreported,[3] and according to National Commission for Women, in total 23722 cases have been received on violence against women and children[4] and several cases were still not reported. The issue here is, even though these cases being going unreported is a concerned matter and should be resolved, why are they happening and what are causes for them to go unreported. But it should also consider when we talk about domestic violence, we only see child abuse, brother-sister violence, married-partner violence and others violence which occurs within the four-wall of so-called home, and it has never occurred to us there could be violence on parents by children and adolescents, which too happens within the four walls. The similar situation is with the cases where abuse is occurring in jail and prison by prison-mates, and it has been seen by an study conducted by Parent Line Plus on When Family Life Hurts: Family experience of aggression in children, that 88% of the callers on this line was regarding parents worrying about their children's aggressive behavior within the home environment, and although their behavior to be affect all family member, but mostly mothers seems to take the brunt of their children's aggressive behavior.[5] And, still number of parents reporting abuse is less due to fear of societal norms. Similar situation is in case of human trafficking, as selling the individual for sex work or prostitution, irrespective of their age, sex is an illegal, that most relevant reason for these cases to go unreported. In case of India, the Supreme Court of India have recently decriminalized homosexuality[6], so people who living together or in a relationship, and suffered violence by their partner, never revealed or complained about it because of getting arrested for have same-sex relationship, i.e., before decriminalizing of homosexuality. On the top of it, due to the private nature of these cases, they go unreported, and never considered these victims as subject matter under the study of victimology. There's a need for Victimologists to discuss, why the victims are reluctant to report the incident to the police. Well, there are some reasons stated by K D Gaur, why victims hesitate to report the crimes and those are:

    • People's apathy and attitude of indifference.
    • The effect of crime being insignificant or petty;
    • Identity if the offender being unknown;
    • Apprehension of threat or harassment from the culprit;
    • Social and public indignation. Particularly in cases of rape, illegal abortion and other sexual offences; considerable loss of time, money in prolonged criminal litigation;
    • Reluctance of witnesses to testify or possibility of their turning hostile;
    • lack of faith and confidence on police action.[7]

    Victimization Of Child-To- Parent/ Elder Abuse:

    Elder abuse or Child-to-parent abuse is the similar kind of abuse as other abuses, thus become the subject-matter of the definition of domestic violence, but as per Indian legislation, Domestic Protection Act 2005 does not define elder abuse. Unfortunately, elder abuse has been defined by National Research Council, 2003, as "intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm, whether or not intended, to an unsafe and unprotected elder by a caregiver or other person including their children who stands in a trust relationship to the elder, or failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder's basic needs or to protect the elder from harm".[8] Other related terms have been used by Scholars are child-to-parent violence, parent abuse, child-to-father violence, and child-to-mother violence. Elder abuse can be occurrence of psychological (verbal), financial, sexual, or violent physical abuse that causes pain to a person who is past retirement age. It would be wrong to state here that the elder abuse happens only in developed countries, because a study conducted on 'A study of the medical and social problems of a rural geriatric population' in South India, which came to conclusion and stated that elderly people were being abused both physically and verbally.[9] It became very distressful for the elder to take such abuse, as it is committed by their own offspring, so, it has been seen that the post-effect of abuse results not only bruises, fractures and other bodily injury but also psychological effect like depressive symptoms.

    Interpersonal relationships are culturally build-up and while try to understand elder abuse in Asia must take account of this cultural context.[10] It is an ancient teaching, mostly in Asia culture, which inherited by the adult children throughout their life, which teaches them that it is their responsibility or duty to take care of their parents and provide them financial support too, even parents place their expectations to their children that they would look after them in their old-age. Children are leaving the family home to head for cities in search of better work and moving into small urban apartments, which cannot accommodate the whole family network, and most people find they can't take time off to look after their elderly parents.[11]

    As in case of India, disrespecting elder and undignified living condition are not the only form of elder abuse, but "being taken for granted", "being used as additional domestic help", and "not being valued for sacrifices made to household chores" are other example of elder abuse in India.[12] 50% of financial abuse in Delhi involves family member and inheritance problems.[13]

    Due to non-reporting and difficulty sampling, acquiring precise incidence information on elder abuse and neglect is difficult.[14] Approx. 3-10 % of the population of elder suffer abuse, and the reason for not reporting about the incidence due to fear, guilt, ignorance or shame. Elder are reluctant to report such incidence and seek someone's help, because it has been perceived as private family matter. Fear of being shamed by society is of such nature, elder does not acknowledge about their own victimization, because if they did, other family member will get know about children not fulfilling their obligations and duties towards their parents. According to the study conducted by Help Age International in the year 2012, 55% of elders had been abused and not reported it to anyone, and out of these, 80% gave reason that they wished to uphold family honor.[15] Parents feel embarrassed and self-blamed for not able to control their children. Reason for not disclosing the incident to anyone would be response by criminal justice system, and minimized by family and their community.

    Victimization Of Victims Of Human Trafficking:

    North-eastern region of India has shown endangered to human trafficking, and from that region most of the girls and women have been trafficked to work as a prostitute and sex worker, to different region like Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab. West Bengal has also emerged as a hub for agents and traffickers sending women and children to the Middle East as forced labor.[16] According to an NGO called MARG (Mankind in Action for Rural Growth), the reason for women and children becoming an easy target for traffickers is because people are aware of the situation, in need of work and money they trust them, who lured women and children to different regions and some frequent natural disaster destroyed their homes and they lose their oved ones because of it. United Nations has referred the undetected cases of human trafficking as "the hidden figure of crime". Internationally, only about 0.4% survivors of 'human trafficking cases are identified, meaning that the vast majority of cases of human trafficking go undetected.[17] The criminal justice system's response to human trafficking has been labeled "victim-built", not "victim-centered", putting the system's investigation and prosecution goals before trafficking victim's needs.[18] They are to be considered as the most difficult cases to investigate and prosecute. According to Snigdha Sen, a researcher at Tafteesh has stated that there is no fear of the law. Even Anti-trafficking campaigner concluded that poor law enforcement and India's under resourced police and judiciary meant few people were punished and few victims received support. Human trafficking considered to be an organized crime, and police does not investigate these cases thoroughly. There are some factors which increases incidents like human trafficking for example, political instability means countries in which government is unstable or have weak governance or politically divided, increased risk of human trafficking, even if countries at war or civil unrest situation people desires to leave their unstable country, which attract traffickers to do illegal business. Another factor could be patriarchal society or practice, society's attitude towards women is like second-class citizen, inferior to men, which results in economic, political and socially vulnerable position, and they become prey to traffickers on the pretext of elevating their weak status.

    Victims of human trafficking tends to have an extensive victimization history like emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, probably they have suffered in their childhood. As compared to adults, child victims are especially vulnerable to trafficking because of their age, immaturity and lack of experience, to abusive practices that may, for example, stunt their further physical development and to continued victimization as a result of attachment, developmental and coal difficulties.[19] Victims finds very difficult to report or to discuss such matters with the other person. Trafficked person is at great risk of HIV infection, not only that the trauma experience by victims includes PTSD, anxiety, depression, alienation, disorientation, aggression and difficulty concentrating.[20]

    Victimization Of Prison and Jail Inmates' Violence:

    It is known fact that behavior of people inside the prison and people outside of it are different, as incarcerated people tends to have chronic and infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, heart diseases, and also shows some psychological effect like substance and drugs abuse, depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia, etc. though prison being the dangerous places perceived by the society, yet it is neglected from the area of empirical injury, and that prisoner might face the risk of being victimized under the prison, who himself is an offender. When females are victimized in prison, they are more likely to have their incident perpetrated by another inmate, whereas male inmates more frequently report being victimized by staff.[21]

    There's lifestyles Theory/ Routine Activities Theory, which states that person's lifestyles impact risk. So, the personal victimization is likely to occur when persons are exposed to motivated offenders, when they are deemed suitable targets, and when they lack capable guardianship, and when these factors come together, they tend to occur victimization.

    In case of India, the high incidence of rapes in jails has to be read with another fact: 65% of the under-trials belongs to the 16-18 age-group while the convicts are al most twice as old. The chances of sexual abuse of the under-trials therefore are very high.[22] Offender of Delhi Gangrape case[23], Ram Singh became a victim of rape himself, his father released a statement in the public that he has been raped in jail, even his co-accused too have suffered the same. In India, an Indian Journal of Medical Research article in 2010 quoted figures from Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai in which 72 percent of the inmates interviewed said sex between men was so common.[24]

    According to Haney, while describing the psychological impact of incarceration notes "that the harsh, punitive, and uncaring nature of prison life may represent a kind of "re-traumatization" experience for many such that time spent in prison may rekindle not only the memories but the disabling psychological reactions and consequences of these earlier damaging experiences.[25]

    There's an urgent attention required by both male and female who are susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of victimized.

    Victimization Of Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence:

    Even though World Health Organization has already specified about what is intimate partner violence involves physical and sexual violence, emotional and psychological violence between a couple, but there are numerous authors like Capaldi and Ali, who have described it as a form of violence that both men and women can enact, with no regard to age, marital status, or sexual orientations.[26] It has been found that the LGBTQ+ population finds more difficulty in mental and physical health, employment, than as compared to heterosexual population. The same-sex intimate partner is subject to face more or higher violence in their relationship than heterosexual partners. Around 61.1% of bisexual women, 43.8% of lesbian women, 37.3% of bisexual men, and 26.0% of homosexual men have experienced intimate partner violence their life.[27] According to the recent research, because of the society's view, which tends to excessive mental stress in sexually minor groups and that results in domestic violence episodes between same-sex couples. Author Richard Carroll, an associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, has stated that domestic violence is exacerbated because same-sex couples are dealing with extra stress. Men may not want to see themselves as the victim, to present themselves as unmasculine and unable to defend themselves.[28] A gay man who is struggling with his identity might lash out at his partner with physical or emotional abuse as a stress response behavior. [29] In India, same-sex relationship was considered to be sin, but Indian judiciary have decriminalized it, still society finds hard to accept a relationship between men-men and women-women. Individual who are in same-sex intimate relationships are vulnerable to "minority stress", the psychological pressure from being member of a minority group that is stigmatized or marginalized.[30] So, if they were subject to any kind of violence in their relationship, they get reluctant to report such matter because of lack of support from the society and families or legal provisions, which forces them to stay in the relationship and continued to be victimized. Subject to the violence by their partner, they probably stay in their relationship because of the fear of abandonment or they might not find another person. Majority of victims who did not report their victimization to the police thought the police would not or could not do anything on their behalf. Most victims of intimate partner violence do not consider the justice system an appropriate vehicle for resolving conflicts with intimates.[31]

    Suggestions and Recommendations:

    • Recently, The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 presented before the Parliament should be passed, so that elders of our society be backed-up by law if they are being abused by their children.
    • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, with its title, it suggested that this legislation only protects women not men. This legislation should be gender neutralized, so that both men and women be protected from domestic violence.
    • Neither section 2 nor Section 3 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, defined the definition of elder abuse, nor provide specific provisions for their protection. The loopholes under the Act must be refilled with proper and just law.
    • Treating the symptoms of new incidents of inmate-on-inmate or staff-on-inmate victimization without changing the prison culture and climate is likely to be better than nothing but probably as effective as treating combat trauma in a war zone.[32]
    • Same-sex relationship should be considered valid and backed-up by law, so there's need for same-sex marriage to be included under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and The Special Marriage Act, 1954. With this inclusion, if an individual being victimized by their partner, they can take support of Section 3 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, only if this gets gender neutralized.

    Society has made such a narrower mindset, that different perspective seems unfair and uncommon to us. For example, it is always acceptable and expected by the society, mostly Asian culture, that elder should be take care by their children in their old-age (set-up as a definition before the world), so if elder got mistreated, disrespected by their children, people don't seem to believe them or they never spoke out loud because of thoughts like minimized by the society or shamed by family members. Similarly, Society doesn't recognize same-sex relationship, so it is very uncommon for them to hear about violence and them being victimized by their partner, and do not believe the reason for their injury. 'Homosexuality is a sin' is well known definition which have been acceptable by the society for so long. That is why, same-sex intimate partner violence (IPV), found to be less studied or research by victimologists.

    Prison is believed to be most dangerous place, that is what we believe and set up this perspective in our mind as proper definition, so it became so hard to perceived that even in place like prison an individual may face victimization by their inmates. Victimization of human trafficker's victims never got revealed because of lack of support from criminal justice system and less rate of conviction of offenders. These types of cases proved to be well connected with the politics, makes it dangerous place to research, so it is less researched or measured by victimologists.

    Indeed, there are some risk factors mentioned above like in case of human trafficking- political stability, weal governance; for elder abuse- fear of shamed by society and family member, lack of support from criminal justice system. Same situation is with the same-sex couples' violence- they don't reveal their victimization because of lack of support from family & friends, and criminal justice system. But another reason for not revealing their victimization can be our well-stated and established cultures, believes and principles which make them feel guilty or embarrassed to share their pain and not to cry for help from the other. It is our society's set-up definitions which make a victim to be victimized by their partners, family and others. The reasons and arguments stated above, answered our research question, that the crimes like elder abuse, human trafficking, prison and jail inmates' violence and same-sex intimate partner violence, get less measured and researched because of cultures differences and set-up definitions, and victims didn't tend to report such incidents because they believe that this is their private and family matters.

    Views are personal.

    [2] Carly M. Hilinsji-Rosick & Daniel R. Lee, Contemporary Issues in Victimology: Identifying Patterns and Trends, Lanham, MD: Lexingtom Books, (2018).

    [3] Pramit Bhattacharya & Tadit Kundu, 99% cases of sexual assaults go unreported, govt data shows, Live Mint, April 24 2018,

    [6] Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1.

    [7] K D Gaur, 'Poor Victims of Uses & Abuses of Criminal Law & Process in India', published in 35 JILI (1993).

    [8] Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America, NCBI,

    [9] P. Badrinath, A study of the Medical and Social problems of a Rural Geriatric Population, India Mangalore University (1990).

    [10] Elsie Yan, Ko-Ling Chan, & Agnes Tiwari, A Systematic Review of Prevalence and Risk Factors for Elder Abuse in Asia, Sage Publication, Inc., 16(2), 199-219 (2014).

    [13] Ibid.

    [16] India: From Darjeeling to Delhi- Story of a young girl who was trafficked, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,

    [20] Id.

    [24] Id at 21.

    [32] Id at 23.

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