Many hate crime offenders go unpunished because the victims do not report the crimes
Various crimes committed around the world and in the United States fall under the category of hate crime. Hate Crime is a term used for those offences which are committed as a result of bias towards the race, gender, culture/ethnical background, religion, belief or ideology of a person or a group of people. A very conclusive and working definition formulated by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), hate crime means: “any criminal offence, including offences against persons or property, where the victim, premises or target of the offence are selected because of their real or perceived connection, attachment, affiliation, support or membership with a group. A group may be based upon their real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or other similar factor.” (Hate Crime, TANDIS)
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Biased people all over the world have been known to cause harm to those they hate in numerous ways including physically injuring the person, causing mental distress especially in cases of racial, religious and ethnical discrimination and in many cases even murdering the person. Hate crime can lead to the massacre of a larger group of people like the genocide of Jews in World War II by Hitler. All types of hate crimes depict immensely prejudiced attitude and immaturity of thought of the offender. Such offenders are intolerant towards other religions, races, ethnical backgrounds and cultures etc, and end up committing hate crime(s). However, such cases are also dealt as punishable acts by the law, if they are reported and proven.
Law Enforcement and Unreported Hate crimes
“Undoubtedly, the development of hate crimes legislation is vital to combating the recurrence of hate crimes […]. “ (Cited in Perry, 2003, p.444) Laws have been enforced in many countries around the world to provide protection to people against hate crimes and penalize those who commit them. Nevertheless, as important as the legislations regarding the hate crimes is the actual reporting of the crime. If the crime will not be reported, it will not be possible for the law enforcement agencies to take action against the offender. Just like any case these crimes are reported either by the survivor or the witness. In various cases witnesses are not present or available to testify the act so it remains the duty of the survivor to bring the crime into the knowledge of the law enforcing agencies.
Numerous hate crime offenders roam the streets fearless; thanks to the victims themselves! Unreported offenses are definitely a sorry state of affairs. However, the state of mind of the sufferer and the type of offense all count towards the sufferers decision of reporting the crime or not. ”In general, victims of hate crimes suffer serious psychological effects, more so than victims of other crimes.” (Cited in Perry, 2003, p.446) Out of fear of being victimized again at the hands of the offender, or being publicly exposed, or even from the fear of spoiling their image in front of their employer, friends and family members the victims decide to remain silent and abstain from reporting.
The actual nature of the hate crime and the reason behind it are also determinants of whether the crime will be reported or not. One of the most debatable and sensitive issue is the violence and hate towards same sex marriages. Let alone marriage, homosexual behavior itself is abhorred in many countries around the world where same-sex marriages are illegal. Hence a victim of a homosexual hate crime would prefer to restrain from complaining to the authorities especially when his/her own same sex marriage status could get him/her arrested. “[…] the Justice Department’s National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS) shows that 58% of hate crimes based on sexual orientation go unreported.” (Pro-LGBT)
Women are also sometimes more inclined towards restraining from complaining about an abusive offence towards them because of insecurity. Rape, torture, abuse may all be a result of bias towards a gender, race or ethnic background. Women are not the most privileged part of the society in many developing and under developed countries. Sometimes a rape case if reported and becomes public can totally ruin a woman’s social life, career and stain her character for life in such societies.
Racial and ethnic groups who are not natives in a country and are actually trying to earn a living away from their home country’s are also vulnerable to such hate crimes and mostly opt to stay away from judicial matters and do not report the crimes. Most of the time they fear they will lose their job (usually their sole source of income), or they will have to follow a judicial case or merely are uninformed about the laws of a country regarding hate crimes.
There can be a huge list of reasons for not reporting the offenses committed as result of hate or bias, but no doubt the major reason for unpunished offenders is the lack of reporting by the victims. The judiciary or the law enforcing agencies cannot be held responsible for those unpunished criminals whose acts were actually veiled by the victims. It is as much the responsibility of the victims to report the crime by putting their trust in the judicial system as it is the responsibility of the judiciary to deal with these crimes. If the victim’s trust in the judicial system of a country will be weak so shall be of the offender. In order to maintain law and order in a society and prevent further acts of hate crime it is essential that all hate crimes are reported and dealt with to put an end to this menace
“Hate Crime” Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System “TANDIS”.
Retrieved on June 17, 2008 from http://tandis.odihr.pl/index.php?p=ki-hc
Perry, Barbara. “Hate and Bias Crime: A Reader” 2003. Routledge Publisher
“Pro-LGBT black clergy ad counters misinformation on hate crimes legislation”
Retrieved on June 17, 2008 from pandagon.blogsome.com/2007/07/17/pro-lgbt