In the context of crime, victimization, and immigration in the United States, research shows that people are afraid of immigrants because they think immigrants are a threat to their safety and engage in many violent and property crimes. However, quantitative research has consistently shown that being foreign born is negatively associated with crime overall and is not significantly associated with committing either violent or property crime. If an undocumented immigrant is arrested for a criminal offense, it tends to be for a misdemeanor. Researchers suggest that undocumented immigrants may be less likely to engage in serious criminal offending behavior because they seek to earn money and not to draw attention to themselves. Additionally, immigrants who have access to social services are less likely to engage in crime than those who live in communities where such access is not available. In regard to victimization, immigrants are more likely to be victims of crime. Foreign-born victims of crime may not report their victimization because of fears that they will experience negative consequences if they contact the police. Recently, concern about immigration and victimization has turned to refugees who are at risk of harm from traffickers, who warehouse them, threaten them, and physically abuse them with impunity. More research is needed on the relationship among immigration, offending, and victimization. The United States and other nations that focus on border security may be misplacing their efforts during global crises that result in forced migrations. Poverty and war, among other social conditions that would “encourage” a person to leave their homeland in search of a better life, should be addressed by governments when enforcing immigration laws and policy.
Emily Wright and Brandon Valgardson
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious problem that affects many individuals and crosses national borders, religions, gender, sexual orientation, racial, and ethnic groups (Harvey, Garcia-Moreno, & Butchart, 2007; Krug, Mercy, Dahlberg, & Zwi, 2002). The World Health Organization has defined intimate partner violence as any behavior that inflicts harm on an intimate partner, such as a spouse, prior spouse, or partner. This harm can be physical, psychological, or sexual in nature and is inflicted through physical aggression, psychological abuse, sexual coercion, or other controlling behaviors (Krug et al., 2002). At times, the terms domestic violence and partner/spouse abuse are used interchangeably with the term intimate partner violence (Harvey et al., 2007).
Historically, intimate partner violence was seen as a matter to be dealt with in the home (Andrews & Khavinson, 2013); that is, it was largely considered a private issue between intimate partners. As such, little attention or support was extended toward victims of violence. The women’s rights movement during the 1970s brought many of the deleterious effects of IPV to the attention of the public. As a result, assistance became increasingly available for victims (Dugan, Nagin, & Rosenfeld, 2003). Some of the efforts to provide assistance to victims of IPV include mandatory arrest laws, victim advocacy, counseling services, shelters, and crisis hotlines.
Substantial efforts have been made to provide needed services to the victims of IPV, yet the exact rates of victimization are unknown. This is due to different research methodologies and operationalizations of IPV that are used across studies. For instance, there is some controversy as to whether IPV should be measured by acts of violence (e.g., hitting, choking) or the severity of injuries (e.g., bruises, broken bones). Complicating the issue is the fact that different sampling methods may yield different estimates of IPV. Research drawn from the general population, for instance, may uncover higher rates of less severe IPV, while purposive samples drawn from domestic violence shelters may yield higher rates of severe IPV (Johnson, 2008). Measurement challenges also occur because many individuals underreport or misrepresent their victimization. Thus, research that incorporates multiple study designs and sampling techniques, indicates that approximately 16% of adults in the United States experience IPV victimization each year (Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Misra, Selwyn, & Rohling, 2012).
Social scientists have used a number of theories to better understand IPV. These theories include feminist theories, power theories, social learning theories, and personality theories. Research grounded in these theories has found many risk factors that are related to the likelihood of victimization and perpetration. Additionally, various risk factors for IPV perpetration and victimization have been identified, including individual (e.g., alcohol abuse, anger), historical (e.g., abuse as a child), and demographic (e.g., cohabitation, age) factors (Stith et al., 2000; Stith, Smith, Penn, Ward, & Tritt, 2004). Recently, behavioral scientists have begun to investigate the biological and genetic factors related to IPV perpetration (Barnes, TenEyck, Boutwell, & Beaver, 2013; Hines & Saudino, 2004). Because there are many short- and long-term negative effects of IPV victimization, scholars and advocates continue to explore new avenues to increase understanding of IPV perpetration and victimization to better assist victims and perpetrators. Currently, the main sources of help for victims of IPV include mandatory arrest laws, domestic violence shelters, crisis hotlines, civil protection orders, victim advocacy, treatment programs, and informal means of assistance. However, each of these resources has demonstrated varying degrees of effectiveness for increasing victim support and reducing repeated victimization.
Meenakshi Gigi Durham
News narratives of violence against women in India are part of a larger discourse of Orientalism that began in the nascent years of the British Raj and continues into the present; these narratives also reflect documented patterns of reporting on gender violence that sustain intersectional hierarchies of race and class as well as gender.
In the years leading up to British Crown rule in India, newspapers were embroiled in debates around the rare practice of sati, or the self-immolation of widows. British and Indian newspapers carried articles and commentaries both decrying and defending the practice. Arguments about sati were predicated on contests over national autonomy rather than on the gender violence at the crux of the practice. Sati is conceptually related to “bride burning,” also dubbed “dowry death,” which is reported in the news media as an effect of Indian tradition and gender culture, in contrast to the reportage on domestic violence in “First World” settings, which is depicted in terms of isolated incidents and not interpreted as a consequence of the social milieu. Female infanticide and feticide follow similar patterns of journalistic framing. Human trafficking in India is reported narrowly in terms of sex trafficking and without reference to its connections with other forms of human rights violations.
The 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi incited widespread international and domestic media coverage of violence against women India. Analyses of this coverage revealed repeated tropes of Orientalism in the foreign news. The journalism about this crime characterized India as a place of ungovernable violence against women, overlooking the occurrence of similar crimes in the global North and thus reasserting geopolitical hierarchies of “First” and “Third” worlds. Indian news about this crime reinforced middle-class positions and values, reflecting the changing social dynamics of 21st-century India. Violence against LGBT+ populations, aggravated after the Indian Supreme Court’s re-criminalization of non-heterosexual sex in 2013, is largely unreported in the mainstream news media, although specialized LGBT+ media channels report on it regularly. Neocolonial tropes continue to circulate in news depictions of violence against Indian women, but the rising numbers of women journalists in India seek to expand the scope and depth of reporting on gender issues.
In media representations the term sex crimes most frequently refers to rape and child sexual abuse, although it can include a wider range of acts such as exhibitionism and voyeurism. While the majority of these crimes receive little media attention, certain sensational sex crimes are prominent topics in news and entertainment media. Media attention tends to focus on violent crimes committed by “dangerous” strangers, largely defined as poor men of color, and crimes committed against white and middle-class victims. These representations provide a distorted image of the reality of sex crimes, which most frequently occur in private settings, by someone known to the victim. Media coverage has also been criticized for focusing on the actions and responsibility of victims, suggesting that victim behavior, such as drinking, flirting, or being in the “wrong place at the wrong time” precipitates sexual violence. Again, these representations vary significantly according to race and class, with white and middle-class victims more likely to receive sympathetic coverage, particularly if their assailant is from a lower-class or more marginal racial or ethnic background.
The emergence of the second-wave feminist movement in the 1970s, however, has led to some changes in media representations of sex crimes. Subsequent decades have seen an increase in sympathetic reporting around victims and increased reporting of crimes perpetrated by acquaintances and family members. There has been a growth in feminist voices and views in media reporting, as well as increased focus on the responsibilities and failings of criminal justice systems. Recent years have seen several examples of media coverage or “rediscovery” of previously ignored allegations against celebrities. Sex crimes have become a highly controversial and contested area, and media coverage reflects this, sometimes supporting progressive social and cultural change and sometimes providing a vehicle for “backlash” sentiments. Social media has been a driver of changes in the media landscape around sexual violence in recent years has provided a new forum for survivors to disseminate their stories but has also been marked by online harassment and abuse.