The discovery of victims of crime is closely related to an interest in the victimization of women and the propensity to associate men with offender and women with the status of victim. The experiences of female victims are outlined in detail and it is apparent that women are particularly vulnerable to violent victimization at the hands of men in the private sphere.
With a number of ‘new’ concerns about violence against women emerging in public discourse, we chart the considerable change in the definitions and categories of violence against women. A greater emphasis on the ‘coercive’ dimensions and ‘social harm’ experienced by women has also done much to expand the frame of reference when thinking about women’s victimization.
We consider a broad spectrum of harms and crimes against women in our analysis, including a focus on: intimate partner violence; sexual violence and rape; prostitution; sex trafficking; forced marriage; ‘honour’-based violence; and female genital mutilation.
Female victims of these crimes are under-protected by criminal justice agencies, demonstrated most tellingly by the high attrition rate, or the low number of offences that result in a successful conviction of an offender. We outline the problem of attrition and consider the construction of the ‘ideal’ victim and its consequences for the policing of such crimes.
This chapter also develops an argument stating that domestic violence is a fundamental violation of human rights. With violence against women now recognized throughout the globe as a significant social problem, we develop our analysis of ‘coercive control’ through an appreciation of domestic violence as a form of torture – a clear and obvious human rights violation. In developing our argument, we link the local with the global and consider the role of the state and its responsibility with respect to violence against women.
While we agree that violence against women is complex and has its roots in the structural relationships of power, domination and privilege between men and women in society, we have argued that adopting human rights requires that gender inequality is addressed as a root cause, and that women’s rights and freedoms are upheld.