The Role of women as victims
The role played by victims of crimes has been a subject of discussion for many years. A considerable amount of time has been given to the role played by women as victims of several crimes committed to them. Some of the problems that one can encounter when working with victims and victim advocates are issues such as lack of access to victim contact information. Each Criminal Justice System has different resources and handles the subject of victim involvement differently (Menachem, 1971). Some Criminal Justice Systems have designated a special group of staff who are experienced in advocacy to act as community supervision agencies to handle victim contact. It has also been realized that though there has been a success in this approach, there are certain cases when some of these staff routinely get a victim impact statement during pre–sentencing but don’t pursue any kind of further contact. According to Menachem (1971), some Criminal Justice Systems leave it to other agencies which may already have the women victim support systems in place to work with women victims and thereby help them through the criminal justice process by assisting them determine what their needs are while others are expected to provide specific services to victims, such as notification of offender status. There are cases when a community can have a variety of resources for the women victims, while others have very little. This paper will first examine some of the issues concerning women as victims. Women are usually encountered with four areas of victimization which deserve special consideration: the female incest survivor, the battered parent, military spouse abuse, and sexual harassment.
Incest is usually associated with childhood sexual abuse but the women who were once victims continue to suffer from the violation often long after its occurrence. Incest refers to any exhibitionism; fondling; oral, genital, or anal contact; intercourse; or other actual or attempted exploitive sexual contact between an adult family member (biological or none biological) and an adolescent.
The other most degrading, humiliating, painful, shocking victimization of women is the act of rape. Rape has been a part of human interaction perhaps for as long as the sexes have coexisted. Rape is considered one of the oldest means by which a man could steal a woman to be his wife.
Women are usually victims of family violence and the home usually become very dangerous for the women and lots of fear prevails (Bart, 1985). A significant percentage of violence in the family is directed toward the wife or mother by the husband or father. Because this abusive pattern has been seen by some as the catalyst for other acts of familial violence and is potentially the most damaging for the family.
We therefore need to manage victims effectively requires to enable us get more information about the offenders. Most sexual assault victims know their offenders. Effective offender management calls for an understanding of what working with victims and this can teach us in our efforts to more safely manage offenders under community supervision. The role of victims in the criminal system includes (Bart, 1985).
The women victims can assist us get more information about the offender’s patterns of offending and methods of operation. This is because most women victims usually know their offenders and can assist the criminal system get this vital information. The women victims can also assist the criminal system in getting more information about the offender’s history and this can be useful in determining the reasons why the offender is committing the offence. The criminal justice system can use women victims for planning purposes and setting conditions of supervision but the magnitude of this role is determine by the victim’s willingness to provide more information about the offender and the offence. Better, more specific and accurate treatment and supervision plans, based on a victim’s information about a specific offender and his history; and Help in monitoring offenders (for example, through victim reports of violation or questionable behavior on an offender’s part).
The role of women as offenders
Women are usually associated with prostitution as an offence. Whether thought of as sexual deviance, sexually motivated social deviance, immorality, criminality, victim, or victimless, prostitution has long been characterized as almost singularly a woman’s offense (Barry, 1979). Men also play important role prostitution both as customers and as gay prostitutes. There has been several female as prostitutes. It has also been known that most prostitutes are known for avoiding the law. There has also been a debate as to whether prostitution is a crime or not. Some researchers such as Barry (1979) have argued that prostitution is victimless crime or a crime which is committed without a complainant or not really even a crime at all. Prostitutes are also seen as both offenders and victims.
Women are often guilty of offenses against family members but this is rarely reported to the authorities. This form of offence usually remains a family secret but this should not detract it from its seriousness as not only a domestic problem but a social problem.
When women are thought of as violent criminals, few equate this with the crime of rape. So many women have been arrested for forcible rape. But this is usually questioned if the women actually committed the rape (Brownmiller, 1975). However, studies have shown that women are capable of rape, but it may occur much more frequently than it is currently known.
Understanding the offenders enables us to create commitment to the safety needs of victims and the community at the forefront of our strategy, or taking a victim–centered approach. By working with the women offenders, we remember to include the safety of victims and potential victims, we also recognize that it is not sufficient to monitor and ensure the compliance of women offenders based on their word alone, or on the behavior they present to us. In order to ensure safety, we must involve others and we must recognize the ongoing risk that offenders may pose to victims and the community. By concentrating on what is best for the offender, we also get to know what should be done to protect the victims.
The role of Women in the Criminal Justice System
In addition to the difficulties women face as victims and offenders of criminality and their subsequent involvement with the criminal justice system, they also struggle as practitioners of criminal justice. Sex-role stereotyping and chivalry toward women have historically minimized their employment in the criminal justice system. Despite advances in recent years sparked by the women’s movement and a number of legal decisions, women continue to be underrepresented as police officers, lawyers, judges, correctional officers, and probation and parole officials (Chapman, 1978).
This section examines the role of women as professionals in the field of criminal justice system. It has been known that street crimes, committed most likely by lower-class minority members, have been arbitrarily defined as criminality, whereas crimes most likely perpetrated by those with political and economic clout—white-collar and professional crimes—”are legally protected from inclusion in criminal law. The response of the criminal justice system and social and community services to the plight of female victims, offenders, and criminal justice practitioners has been less than adequate on the whole. A major reason for this is the traditional stereotypes assigned women and men that have influenced perceptions of women involved in crime or the system of criminal justice. If victim advocates do not understand the process of sex offender management and do not understand and trust the process by which we make decisions, victim advocates may be among the first to challenge us or to comment publicly when one of the perpetrators under supervision commits a new offense. Victims who do not see their involvement, information, and safety issues taken into account may experience the criminal justice system as part of their victimization, rather than an effective response to it
One of the roles of women as professionals in the criminal justice system is to provide women with an opportunity to be involved and exercise their rights. According to Chapman (1978), women were previously oppressed and could not openly express their rights due to the male dominated criminal justice system. Chapman (1978) further illustrated that women professionals now give women an opportunity to express their views about the offence and crimes committed against them.
When women professionals are involved in the criminal justice system, the women counterparts feel that their safety and information needs more consistently identified and thoroughly met. The women victims of crimes and the offenders on the other hand feel that they will be given a chance to exercise their rights. This can be in terms of expression or a chance to a professional to assist them with their cases. Women also tend to feel very open when they are close to other women professional in the criminal justice system and this enables them provide detailed information about full details of the case and the offender who committed the crime to them. The women professionals also have the ability to provide referrals to victims and provide support for them. If the women professional has been a victim then she will likely provide support to her other women since she understands what the other women is going through. This can form a means of providing adequate care to the victim and all referrals that can assist the victim or the offender solve the problem (Menachem, 1971). They also provide opportunities for victims and offenders to act as an input so that the victim or the offender could be understood more easily and thereby enable the criminal justice system formulate ways of managing both the offender and the victim.
The women victim advocates have also been known to benefit by providing opportunities to collaborate on activities and initiatives that could help to prevent future victimization. This is because the victim advocate fully understands the offence which was committed against her and is therefore collaborating with other victim advocates to make sure that they are safe and they will not encounter such victimization again.
These benefits can lead to increased satisfaction of victims within the criminal justice process, which will lead to greater cooperation from victims, encourage more victims to report, and increase the level of healing among victims.
There are several benefits of collaborating with women victims and offenders in the criminal justice system. It should therefore be noted that working with women victims is not a waste of time and energy because whatever time or energy we spend in working with victims and victim advocates is has several benefits and is paid back to us in many ways. Working with women advocates who were once offenders and victims of crime can enhance the criminal justice system’s ability to fulfill its mission of increasing public safety through the more effective management of offenders and victims.
The women victim advocates are professionals who can help ensure that the general concerns of women victims are addressed in the protocols that we establish to deal with sex offenders or the victims of crime and ensure that the policies that will thereafter be designed by the criminal justice system are friendly to both the victim and the offender (Davidson, 1979). They can be of vital importance in holding criminal justice and treatment professionals accountable for implementing a victim–centered approach. The women victim professionals can also play an important role in the implementation of the third dimension of the victim–centered method, which is the incorporation of victim input and involvement. Like the addition of victim advocates to our multi–disciplinary approach to sex offender management, victim input can be incorporated into our approach to sex offender management in many different ways. The essential element is that victim input is sought out and used to help those responsible to provide supervision and treatment staff makes decisions in the management of individual sex offenders
Menachem, A (1971). Patterns in Forcible Rape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Barry, K (1979). Female Sexual Slavery. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall
Bart, B.P (1985). Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies. New York: Pergamon
Brownmiller, S (1975). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York: Simon
Chapman, J.R, (1978). The Victimization of Women.Beverly Hills: Sage Publications
Davidson, T.M (1979). Conjugal Crime: Understanding and Changing the Wife-Beating
Pattern. New York: Hawthorne Books