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Spotlight on Specific Groups of Victims

By February 20, 2015February 1st, 2021News


Victim Support Europe advocates on behalf of all victims of crime, irrespective of the type of crime, irrespective of any particular characteristics of the victim. It is too easy to focus on just one or two types of crimes, often the most serious – to the exclusion of other victims.

No victim must be forgotten. All victims must have access to the support they need and to justice. Irrespective of how serious a crime may or may not appear, the impact of the crime will vary from person to person and each person will need to be assisted accordingly.

Victim Support Europe also recognises that every victim must be treated as an individual and that each victim has specific needs arising from their personal circumstances and characteristics and from the nature of the crime. To fully and effectively meet those needs, organisations must understand the situation of those victims and their perspectives.

In collaboration with a range of EU organisations working with specific groups which may face specific forms of victimisation and which often have specific needs following a crime, VSE provides below short information and statements on those groups.

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The groups covered are far from being exhaustive. Some victims may also come from a combination of groups. The information below provides just a glimpse of the issues at stake. We hope, however, that it provides a springboard for individuals, organisations, academics and policy makers, to explore these issues further and to take them into account in their work, research, and daily lives.

A PDF Version is also available for download here: EU victims day – spotlight on specific groups of victims ]



Victims of transphobic hate crime

Transgender Europe:

Trans people are exposed to serious and repetitive gender-based violence, disrespect and maltreatment in the EU: one in two trans persons is attacked or targeted through violence, threats or insults according to the LGBT Survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency.

However, only around a quarter of the hate-motivated incidents are reported to the police or other organisations, e.g. LGBT organisations and general victim support services.Seeking help can seem like an insurmountable task for trans victims of violence, both due to the lack of appropriate services and the risk that were they to report the crime, their abusers could out them as trans, thus, subjecting them to further transphobic harassment, discrimination and violence.

On European day for victims of crime, we remember, mourn and honour trans victims of violence and call on Member States to implement the EU Directive on Victims’ rights paying attention to the specific needs of trans victims and prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression.

Victims of elder abuse

Age Platform Europe:

On the occasion of this European Day for Victims of crime, AGE Platform Europe recalls that violence against older persons is a wide phenomenon, despite the lack of statistics on the extent of the phenomenon.

In 2011, WHO regional office for Europe reported that “the prevalence of elder maltreatment in the community is high (about 3%) and it may be as high as 25% for older people with high support needs”.On the occasion of this European Day for Victims of crime, AGE Platform Europe recalls that violence against older persons is a wide phenomenon, despite the lack of statistics on the extent of the phenomenon.

Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.Although elder abuse has important and profound consequences, only a small proportion of victims presently talks about or reports the abuse. Moreover, estimations show that elder abuse is underreported by as much as 80% (WHO 2008).Older victims are facing obstacles in accessing adequate victim support services. They themselves lack information and (self) recognition of their rights as citizens and as victims. Some older victims may also have a limited mobility to go and ask for support from organisations due to functional and/or cognitive impairment, whilst at the same time being at the greatest risk of violence.

AGE would like to call on each Member State to make sure that the Victims’ Directive also applies to older people. The Directive should be implemented so that victims receive an equal access to support services regardless of their age or their need for care. Implementation measures should acknowledge the specificities of elder abuse and adapt accordingly victim support services.


 Undocumented Migrants


The increasing tendency to link access to justice and services with migration enforcement means that certain victims of crime are systematically denied access to justice and services, their crimes remain unreported, their witness statements never taken, and their perpetrators unpunished.

Those living and working in Europe without a valid residence or work permit rarely report experiences of violence and crime to the police due to the risk of immigration-related checks.For these victims, any contact with the authorities, police, or courts can lead to them being arrested, detained and deported.

Existing laws and policies mean that these migrants have effectively become societies ‘zero-risk’ victim and impunity is flourishing.A survey by IMKAAN, a UK based organisation, found that of 183 women with an insecure migration status seeking support for violence, 92% were threatened with deportation by the perpetrator.

Across the EU, undocumented migrants are disproportionately victimised at work, at home, and on the streets.The EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the support and protection of victims of crime provides a significant opportunity to advance access to rights and justice for undocumented victims in Europe. Article 1 of the Directive affirms that the rights and minimal standards set out apply to all victims of crime irrespective of their residence status.

As reiterated by the European Commission in the guidance document related to the transposition and implementation of the Directive, Member States should take the necessary measures to ensure that laws and policies in the domain of migration are modified in line with the Directive.

Good practices in some Member States, such as Spain, include protection clauses in legislation to suspend deportation orders to allow undocumented victims to safely participate in criminal proceedings of crime in order to access their rights to a due process and protection.

 Missing Children

Missing Children Europe:

A child is reported missing every 2 minutes in Europe. Children go missing for various different reasons and the needs of these children vary greatly. Missing Children Europe is the European federation for missing and sexually exploited children representing 30 organisations in 25 countries.

Our mission is to protect children from any kind of violence, abuse or neglect that is caused by or results from them going missing.Up to 50% of missing children cases reported on 116 000 missing children hotlines in Europe are those of runaways.Runaways often run away from situations of abuse, neglect or conflict from home or the institution where they are placed. While on the run, these children are exposed to very vulnerable situations from rough sleeping, to begging to sexual abuse and exploitation.

36% of missing children cases are those of parental abductions where one parent unlawfully abducts the child following a dispute or divorce in an international conflict. These cases could have adverse effects on both the child and the left behind parent for a long period of time.

A third priority category for Missing Children Europe concern cases of unaccompanied migrant children who enter the EU in an attempt to escape war, violence, poverty or exploitation. Some reports suggest that up to half of these children go missing within 48 hours of being placed in certain reception centres in Europe. Some continue their journey with a specific country in mind, while others are trafficked, sexually or economically exploited, forced to beg or join criminal gangs.

LGBTI Victims

ILGA Europe:

Too many victims, particularly LGBTI victims of homophobic and transphobic crime, still don’t report such incidents or the motives behind them.

In the FRA’s 2013 LGBT Survey, 26 % of all respondents indicated that they were physically or sexually attacked or threatened with violence in the previous five years, and 10% in the 12 months before the survey.However, fewer than one in five of incidents were brought to the attention of the police.

Thus, national systems should focus, in particular, on providing adequate support to victims and allow them to expose the biased motivation in total confidence.

Victims of Human Trafficking

La Strada International:

The International Labour Organisation estimates that up to 880 000 people are victims of forced labour and human trafficking in Europe. The human rights of people who fall prey to human trafficking are violated on a large scale. Not only by those who exploit and abuse them, but ironically, also by governments that are supposed to protect them.

Victims of human trafficking, once identified as such, have important rights for protection and support. These include free legal aid, shelter and counselling, compensation for unpaid wages and not to be punished for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked.

But there is a large gap between the rights that victims of human trafficking are entitled to on paper, and the rights granted in practice. According to La Strada International, this has serious consequences and leads to further violation of people’s human rights. 

La Strada International (LSI) is a leading European NGO network that for 20 years has been working to prevent human trafficking and assist its victims. In 2013 the LSI member organisations provided support to 1823 victims of human trafficking and registered 21 816 calls on their hotlines from victims of trafficking and their families, as well as people who want to travel safely abroad.

La Strada International runs campaigns to inform people about safe migration and human trafficking, trains professionals working with victims and advocates for the rights of trafficked persons on the European and international level.

Victims of Race Hate Crime

European Network Against Racism:

Racist crimes are crimes motivated by the victim’s ethnicity national origin or religious beliefs. Victims targeted because of such fundamental aspects of their personalities experience wide-ranging psychological damage such as intense distress, anxiety and affective disturbance, repercussion on their identity and self-esteem.Being the target of a racist crime is a form of negation of the right to one’s own identity.

The prevalence of hate crime also creates a higher risk of victimisation for members of certain ethnic and religious communities. OSCE reports show that racist attacks happen across the European region.

In England and Wales alone, a total of 37.484 racist crimes were reported to the police between April 2013 and March 2014, yet it is estimated that the total number of hate crimes could actually be 6 times higher than this.ENAR has particularly monitored specific forms of racist crime, such as anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-Gypsyist and Afrophobic crimes. FRA surveys, have shown that significant proportions of the Jewish and Roma communities fear regular verbal attacks, harassment and physical attacks.

The same surveys show that the majority of victims do not have trust in the police or in other public institutions to investigate and prosecute such offences, or to protect them.

It is therefore time for all European governments to deliver on the commitments they have made and to ensure a full and thorough implementation of the EU Victims’ Rights Directive, which provides equal rights to all victims, irrespective of their residence status.

Victims of racist crime should be given an assessment of their specific protection needs, taking into consideration the type of hate crime they suffered.

We will closely monitor the way EU Member States transpose the Directive, including as regards their obligation to appropriately train law enforcement officers, prosecution services and court staff, including on hate crime.

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