Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

The Epidemiology of Poly-Victimization in Pakistan

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

The Epidemiology of Poly-Victimization in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Adolescence period is considered to be the most vulnerable time in one's life to be victimized. During developmental phase, such as transition from childhood to adolescence, may expose an individual to multiple forms of victimization such as maltreatment, exposure to direct and indirect violence and sexual abuse (Finkelhor, 2008). The research work conducted in Pakistan so far focused on one form of victimization and had been ignoring the cumulative aspects of frequent number of victimization. An analysis of five years newspaper data on sexual abuse revealed 2447 reported cases of abuse (Banu, 2006). Another analysis of people's perception about sexual abuse suggested that both genders were at high risk but girls of 12-16 years of age are more vulnerable for sexual victimization (Banu, 2007). In 2011, cases of kidnapping, rape/sodomy, gang rape/sodomy and attempted rape/sodomy were 850, 505, 279 & 141, respectively in Pakistan (Fatima, 2011). The above mentioned research results in Pakistan stressed the need to address the comprehensive phenomena of poly-victimization among adolescents which badly effect their quality of life. The research work conducted in West found that rate of poly- victimization were 71% for children and youth which reduce their ability to prevent themselves for future victimization (Finkelhor, Omrod, & Turner, 2008).

According to Sabina and Strauss (2008) poly-victimization refers to experience of an accumulative exposure to multiple forms of victimization such as child maltreatment, sexual victimization, peer and sibling victimization, conventional crime and witnessing indirect violence. Finkelhor, Turner, Omrod, Hamby, and Kracke (2009) stated that the adolescents' exposure to one form of victimization either in their family or community increases the risk for further victimization such a peer and sibling's victimization and may also increase the chances for sexual victimization. The repeated exposure might be due to their vulnerable age as victimization tends to accumulate during 14-17 years of age (Carothers & Weaver, 2006). While describing the developmental epidemiology of poly-victimization, Finkelhor, Omrod, and Turner (2009) further added that poly victimization increases for both genders of 13 years and above. Girls are more victims of sexual victimization and had its peak at the age of 14-17 years, whereas, boys are the victims of child maltreatment and conventional crime at the age of 10- 13 years. The results for witnessing indirect violence inside and outside the family are significantly increased for both genders across developmental ages. These results are in accordance with the claims of Routine Activity Theory, suggested that target attractiveness, level of guardianship and close relationship with offenders might be taken as risk factors which may increase the frequency of victimization throughout developmental life span (Cohen & Felson, 1979; Miethc & Meier, 1994; MacNeil, 2002). Finkelhor, Omrod, Turner, and Holt (2009) also found four pathways which may lead to poly-victimization: residing in dangerous community; living in dangerous family; having a chaotic family environment; or having emotional problems that increase the risk behavior from 7 to 15 years of age. Ecological perspective supported the pathways to poly-victimization and suggested to cumulate for certain individuals and for certain situations. It may be argued that whatever the factor are for poly-victimization, the accumulation of different kinds of victimization for adolescents is really hazardous (Belsky, Lemer, & Spanier, 1984).

When child maltreatment occurs due to primary caregiver, the adolescents may develop confused personality and may perceive and respond to environment differently (Putnam, 2006). Elerman (1992) stated that these victims thought that they did not have enough choices to protect themselves which may increase their proneness towards victimization. In Pakistan, child maltreatment has been the focus for researchers from many years and it has been observed that physical maltreatment or abuse in homes or schools is commonly reported phenomenon. …

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