Arguments in favour of strengthening the rights of victim–survivors in the criminal justice process have largely been made within the framework of a human rights perspective and with a view to meeting their procedural needs and minimising their experiences of secondary victimisation. In this article, however, I ask whether the prevalent legal arrangement, whereby victim–survivors are assigned the legal status of witnesses in criminal cases, with limited if any rights, is a just arrangement. In order to answer this question, the article draws on interviews with 35 victim–survivors of sexual violence in Iceland. The interviews are presented against the backdrop of Nordic legal thinking and are interpreted in the context of Nancy Fraser’s democratic theory of justice. On the basis of the findings, I argue that assigning complainants the role of witnesses constitutes a case of misframing that results in misrecognition throughout the criminal justice process.
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I would like to thank the participants in this study for generously sharing their experiences, thoughts and opinions with me. I would also like to thank Stígamót - Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence, and the EDDA Center at the University of Iceland for facilitating the implementation of this research. This paper forms a part of my Ph.D. research at the Department of Sociology of Law at Lund University and I would like to thank my supervisors, Professor Reza Banakar and Senior Lecturer Karl Dahlstrand, for their guidance and helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Research for this paper was partly conducted while I was a visiting Ph.D. scholar at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo. In addition I would like to extend my thanks to my colleagues for their support and comments on previous drafts of this paper, in particular: Ida Nafstad, Solveig Laugerud, Lena Sveneus, John Woodlock and Robyn Holder. Finally I thank the anonymous reviewers and editors for their constructive comments.
© 2018, The Author(s).
- Nordic law
- Parity of participation
- Procedural justice
- Sexual violence