Gender and Crime

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12 2 gender and crime Frances Heidensohn and Marisa Silvestri introduction Men commit crime at higher rates than women, are involved in more serious and violent ofending, and are more prone to recidivism. While this statement has been called ‘one of the few undisputed “facts” of criminology’ (Lauritsen et al. 2009: 362) it was an unconsidered one for much of the subject’s history. hat it is now a central and much debated matter is due largely to the advent of feminist criminology which took this ‘gender gap’ in recorded crime as one of its key themes. Gender is now an established and central topic in criminology and studies of criminal justice (Heidensohn, forthcoming). his chapter relects this status by outlining the development of the feminist critique, the present state of the art in key ields of research and debate: women, girls and crime, history, police, and men. Later sections cover signiicant areas in gender and justice, particularly major shits in the treatment of women in the criminal justice system in the twenty-irst century. As will be apparent, continuity and change are central themes of our survey: thus some of the questions raised by the pioneer scholars in the foundational years, such as the gender gap, are still being vigorously debated today (see below and Heidensohn 2010a and Miller 2010). the early feminist critique of criminology One of the irst tasks in second-wave feminism from the 1960s onwards was to develop a comprehensive critique of the discipline. he early critique has been well rehearsed elsewhere (see, e.g., Heidensohn 1996). It has frequently focused on the two main themes of amnesia or neglect and distortion. Women account for a very small proportion of all known ofenders, and as a consequence relatively little attention has been given to them. he majority of studies of crime and delinquency prior to the 1980s were of men’s

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