Relatives or strangers? The effect of the relationship between the perpetrators and victims of rape on the processes of the criminal justice system

Joana Domingues Vargas

The paper presents the results of an investigation into the procedures and the individuals passing through the various segments of the criminal justice system: the police, the public ministry and the criminal courts. The aim of the work was to determine whether the nature and the degree of the relationship between perpetrator and rape victim influence decisions within the system and whether rapists who are known to their victims are treated differently by the various organizations that comprise it. Our results suggest that, in rape crime, the relationship between perpetrator and victim is indeed an important factor in the decision making process. Starting from the inquiry phase, suspects known to their victims (especially fathers, step-fathers and other relatives) are more likely to be considered guilty. One of the conclusions of the study, therefore, is that there is a predisposition within the system to punish incest of children.

Sexual crimes; Domestic violence; Incest; Rape; Criminal justice system

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