Verkko’s Laws: Explaining Violence Against Women

Rates of violence are falling in developed countries. Every year there are fewer cases of murders and other violent crimes among the population, but that in itself does not mean that all violence is reduced.

There are different patterns of victimization which, despite the development of society, continue to occur quite noticeably, one of them being cases of domestic violence.

In this article we will see Verkko’s laws that explain this phenomenon, In addition to contextualizing it.

    Who was Veli Verkko?

    Veli Kaarle Verkko (1893-1955) was a Finnish criminal, A pioneer in the study of comparative homicide research between countries. This researcher examined how and how murder cases occurred in various societies, both in the domestic context and on the street, linking them to culture, development, awareness of inequalities and wealth, among other factors.

    From his research, he postulated two laws, known as Verkko’s laws, which explain the trends in statistics regarding violence and in particular homicides, both at a temporary and cross-sectional level.

    Verkko noted that not all homicides were the same. Although it may seem obvious, it is not so much when you consider that there are many reasons that can lead a person to commit such a serious crime as murder. Verkko saw the need to try to relate the context in which the homicide case occurred to the killer’s relationship with his victim.

    Not all murder victims have the same characteristics and do not have the same chances of being murdered. If you compare the odds of being murdered or murdered, there are big differences between whether you are male or female.. In the world, for every murdered woman, there are four murdered men.

    But it does not end there, because if there are more men who are murdered than women in the world, it is different depending on the country and given the type of violence that has occurred.

      Verkko’s laws

      Veli Verkko observed that there were different murder rates in terms of the degree of development of the country, given that the more developed a society, the fewer cases of murder. However, fewer murders in general did not mean there were fewer cases of femicide.

      Based on his observations, the Finnish criminologist presented his two famous laws.

      1. Verkko’s first law

      Verkko’s first law, also called Verkko’s static law, postulates that the degree of victimization of women in a society will be reflected in the total number of homicides.

      It is said to be static because it explains the variations in the homicide rate of a country at a given time, without having a long-term perspective.

      This law stipulates that the more homicides there are in a society of men and women, the lower the percentage of murdered women.

      On the contrary, the fewer murders, the more likely the percentage of female homicide victims.

      In most cases, when a homicide is committed, it usually arises in a situation that is already criminal in itself and where, statistically, men are generally more involved than women.

      It is for this reason that the more crimes committed in a society, the more likely it is that those murdered are men.

      2. Verkko’s second law

      Street violence, also known as non-domestic violence, is not the same as domestic violence. The way the two types of violence evolve, and therefore the homicides they may end up committing, is different.

      The more a country develops, the more predictably street violence will decreaseBut this is not the case, or at least similarly, with domestic violence.

      Verkko’s second law or dynamic, which is best known, postulates that changes in homicide rates in a society are due to the way in which, above all, men commit fewer homicides on the street than in a setting. domesticated.

      We need to understand what we mean by domestic violence. This construction would come to incorporate in him a any act of violence committed against a person close to the aggressor, Be the couple, children, parents, siblings or other relatives.

      It can be linked to interpersonal conflicts in families. This kind of violence will always take place, no matter the weather.

      Cases of domestic violence remain more stable than cases of non-domestic violence, Which implies that the abuser commits an assault against someone he does not know.

      By non-domestic violence we mean an act of violence, which can of course include homicide, perpetrated by a person who did not know or had no close relationship or kinship with the victim.

      Contexts of non-domestic violence are often situations of theft, nighttime violence, abuse or sexual rape outside the partner, and drug offenses. Leaving aside the case of sexual violence, in most of these crimes the assault is man-to-man.

      These types of crimes vary according to the level of development and prosperity of the society., In addition to whether or not there are laws guaranteeing that such criminal acts are not committed.

      What is the explanation behind all of this?

      As we said, Verkko’s best-known law is the second, dynamics. He postulates that cases of domestic violence, compared to those of non-domestic violence, have been more static throughout history. The perpetrator of this type of violence is usually a man who kills a member of his family. There are several people who have tried to give a socio-cultural explanation for this phenomenon..

      One of them is cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, who in his famous book The Angels We Carry Inside highlights the explanation of other psychologists, Martin Dally and Margo Wilson. According to these two researchers, the reason why violence in a domestic context remains more or less stable is the fact that members of every family tend to take their thumbs off, which has always happened and will always happen.

      This does not mean that in every family in which there is occasional tension, a crime will be committed, let alone a homicide. However, with this explanation, we can understand why, as a society develops, street violence decreases, but domestic violence also decreases: in any good family there is conflict.

      In a family, members will always have some kind of conflict of interest. Outraged, by sharing the same space and also the same genetics, there will always be two people who want to have the sameBut only one will be able to get it in the end, and in order to achieve it you will have to fight. Aggression, in an evolutionary perspective, is done between equals in order to achieve what we want, this reason being the most normal in men.

      However, the majority of victims of domestic violence are usually women, which is reflected even in the statistics of the most developed countries. The clearest example is the case of the Nordic countries.

      The five independent Nordic countries to date, namely Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, share two seemingly contradictory characteristics: the first is that in each of them there is a deep sensitivity to the acquisition of equality and women’s rights, the second these are the countries with the most cases of murder due to gender-based violence.

      This is striking because I can expect that as we become more aware of the privileges among men and the hardships among women, society will have lower rates of gender-based violence. Although street violence in these countries has been significantly reduced, domestic violence is still significantly higher than in Mediterranean countries.

      He should be noted that this phenomenon in the Nordic countries has its explanation. In these countries, either because of their climate or because of cultural factors, it is more common to spend time with family and friends at home than to go for a walk. Since Verkko’s Second Law explains that domestic violence is based on the struggle for resources and space, it is logical to think that the longer one is locked in a home with relatives, the more stress can arise and, therefore, the greater the risk of violence.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Kivivuori, J. and Lehti, M. (2011). Homicides in Finland and Sweden. Crime and Justice, 40 (1), 109-198.
      • Kivivuori, J. (2017). Veli Verkko as a precocious criminal lawyer. A case study on scientific conflicts and the paradigm shift. Scandinavian Journal of History 42 (2), 144-165.

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