Women Who Abuse: They tend to have a motivation to act on it
SHAH ALAM - Gender is the single best predictor of criminal behaviour: men commit more crime, and women commit less, says Universiti Sains Malaysia psychologist and criminologist Assoc Prof Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat.
This distinction holds throughout history, for all societies, for all groups, and for nearly every criminal category.
Most efforts to understand crimes have focused on male crimes since men have greater involvement in criminal behaviour, the Forensic Science Programme lecturer said.
However, she said that learning why women commit less crime than men can help illuminate the underlying causes of crime and how it might better be controlled.
“Available research varies on the reasons for differences in criminality among males and females, but most describe individual and societal factors.
“In regards to how society views women who are abusive or violent, the answer depends on the society itself and the immediate surroundings in which the abuse or violent act occurred,” she told Sinar Daily.
Geshina said in societies that were more violent, such acts may be viewed as more permissive in contrast to less violent societies.
Nonetheless, she said in most societies that practice male dominance, violent females were seen as aberrations.
She said these females were seen as having a mental disorder, a victim of past abuse or circumstances, acting in self-defence, or under the control of a more violent male. Rarely were they perceived to have violent traits not rooted in a mental disorder.
"Women's crimes are fewer, less serious, rarely professional, and less likely to be repeated.
"Their crimes are usually motivated by self-defence, in defence of another, under compulsion, and in moments of passion," she said.
Geshina said the criminal justice system's greater "leniency" and "chivalry" toward females may explain a portion of the lower official offending rates of women in comparison to men.
She said although there appear to be relatively small differences between adult women and men in the likelihood of arrest or conviction, women defendants do appear to have a lower probability of being imprisoned.
This difference appears to be related to a variety of factors: pregnancy, responsibilities for small children, the greater likelihood to demonstrate remorse, as well as perceptions that women are less dangerous and more amenable to rehabilitation.
Geshina stated that the males and females' experience and express anger differed, while socially acceptable ways in which males and females express anger may also differ.
She added that males were typically more openly aggressive than females but some researchers have suggested that females were not necessarily less aggressive, but tend to show their aggression in less overt, less physical ways.