83.9 Lightning kidnapping: Violent interactions

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:05 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Letícia de AZEVEDO , Universidade Federal da Bahia - Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Salvador, Brazil
“Sequestro relâmpago” (Portuguese for Lightning kidnapping) is a type of criminal violence that affects the Brazilian middle class since the mid-90s and is known by other latin american countries as “secuestro exprés”. This paper’s main objective is to understand this contemporary type of violence by analyzing its dynamics. We developed an exploratory study with a qualitative method, in which we investigated the subjective experience of thirteen victims of lightning kidnapping through individual interviews. We describe the event in four stages, in which the social interactions take place. The first stage is prior to the arrest (pre-approach); second, comes the phase in which the roles of victim and offender are initiated (capture); then begins the longer phase during which offenders expose their intentions and oblige the victims to agree on a cooperative-coercive contract (the compulsory ride); and finally the event ends (closure), with this being one of the most tense moments for the victim. Generally, the lightning kidnapping may be identified as what is named by scholars as kidnapping for robbery. It is an offense that requires a common means of action – the forced confinement and transportation of the victim – and can follow distinct and complementary scripts (ATM withdrawals, purchases, stealing of personal property, vehicle theft). It is characterized by reduced temporality, the "movable prison" and the dyadic relationship between offender and victim. A cooperative-coercive contract imposed by the offenders can be continuously negotiated, since victim and offender keep a prolonged and constant face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, the victims believe that police intervention may result on harmful outcomes.