Victimology refers to the scientific study of the "extent, nature and causes of criminal victimisation, it's consequences for the persons involved and the reactions thereto by society". (World Society of Victimology, cited in Goodey 2005, pp.10) Various perspectives of victimology have been put forward since the mid-twentieth century when it first emerged. The main perspectives include; feminist victimology, positivist victimology, radical victimology, and critical victimology. Each of these perspectives offer different theories of victims and crime, some more controversial than others. Nevertheless, this essay will critically appraise what feminist victimology has offered to the discipline, and further go on to discuss what it has offered that positivist and radical victimologies have not.
Founded in the 1970s and significantly influenced by radical feminism, feminist victimology primarily recognises victimisation as the product of unequal power relations, sexism, and other types of prejudice within the law and Criminal Justice System. The feminist approach to victimology is therefore concerned with combatting societal sexism, achieving gender equality, and campaigning for women's rights. (Barberet, 2010) In essence, feminist victimology concentrates on the social construction of gender, and heavily focuses upon "uncovering, assessing and responding to the victimisation of women and, in particular, men's violence against women" (Newburn, 2013, pp. 322). Subsequently, the field of feminist victimology includes women in what has traditionally been male-dominated research. It has also adopted qualitative methodologies, such as detailed interviews and case studies, in order to obtain stronger awareness of the forms of female victimisation which have been largely ignored by mainstream (malestream) ideologies. For example, feminist victimology research has shown that females are more likely to be the victims of certain types of crimes, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and that the perpetrators of these crimes are more likely to be men.