The Victimization of Women: Law, Policies, and Politics

The Victimization of Women: Law, Policies, and Politics

The Victimization of Women: Law, Policies, and Politics

The Victimization of Women: Law, Policies, and Politics

Synopsis

In The Victimization of Women, Michelle Meloy and Susan Miller present a balanced and comprehensive summary of the most significant research on the victimizations, violence, and victim politics that disproportionately affect women. They examine the history of violence against women, the surrounding debates, the legal reforms, the related media and social-service responses, and the current science on intimate-partner violence, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. They augment these victimization findings with original research on women convicted of domestic battery and men convicted of sexual abuse and other sex-related offenses. In these new data, the authors explore the unanticipated consequences associated with changes to the laws governing domestic violence and the newer forms of sex-offender legislation. Based on qualitative data involving in-depth, offender-based interviews, and analyzing the circumstances surrounding arrests, victimizations, and experiences with the criminal justice system,The Victimization of Womenmakes great strides forward in understanding and ultimately combating violence against women.

Excerpt

What would we say about a movement that apparently forgot to in
vite most of its professed beneficiaries? What if we discovered, for
example, in the victims’ “movement,” that victims were, politically,
all dressed up but had no place to go? What kind of movement
would it be? Would it really be a movement at all? (Elias 1993: 26)

Despite cultural training teaching that female victims should not be blamed for what happens to them, some of the most telling questions about crimes of personal violence committed against women continue: of a rape victim, “Did she know him? What was she wearing?” or of a battering victim, “What did she do to get him so mad? Why didn’t she just leave?” This knee-jerk reaction reflects a deep-seated ambivalence in how we think about fault and responsibility. Surely it is the perpetrator who justly deserves our scorn and blame. But if this is so, then why do victims’ behaviors and/or appearances remain under scrutiny? Are the lines between victim and offender more complicated than this suggests?

In recent years much academic literature exists to educate people about crime victims’ experiences and the obstacles that limit their choices and abilities to prevent or handle their victimization. Blatant victim blaming has fallen out of vogue. Laws were enacted to reflect a movement away from victim precipitation or provocation theories. Protocols used by police and prosecutors to respond to crime victims were revamped, reflecting a change from traditional beliefs about shared victim responsibility to a new awareness of the support a victim needs when navigating the criminal justice . . .

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