Victimization, intimidation, threats, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and survival implicated in acts of violence affects women. Women are considered the weaker sex in society and men with other structures of society have taken advantage of this way of thinking. It has been proven that even in politics women are discriminated against and at worst beaten to scare them away. Despite fighting back, they are not adequately defended and this kind of violence is not considered to be a crime against gender. This as a result has caused many women to be victimized and even ending up in jail.
For many years, women prisoners have increased in number. Indeed, their number has doubled that of men. In the criminal justice system, many women have experienced drastically very high levels of sexual and physical abuse. Over half of the female population in state prison, that is approximately 58% has been victimized, around 48% have also been physically abused and over 40% sexually abused. It is worth noting that the highest percentage of this population have been victims of abuse in the family structure and history, drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse, violence, intimidation, and threats. Approximately 34% of the women have also been reported to have been raped before they were admitted to prison. Of the women who have been imprisoned by the state, the ones who have been involved in abuse were more likely to be incarcerated for violence-related offenses than those reported to have been abused, which is 35% as compared to 20% (Heimer, 2006).
The sharp rise in the population of women prisoners has drawn attention to the overwhelming repercussions of imprisoning large numbers of women. The social impact of imprisoning a high rate of women is very different from that of men in various regards. The most important of them has to do with the roles of women as mothers and caretakers or caregivers. While many of the women imprisoned had problems with parenting as a result of being involved in crime or drugs, the children are not allowed to suffer from their parent’s crime (Alarid, 2006).
Approximately, two-thirds of women who are in prison are mothers to kids below the age of eighteen and in most cases were heading a single parenthood structure kind of a family. This implies that incarceration of women causes a disruption of children’s welfare in terms of the living situation coupled with creating stress emotionally for both children and women. The recent federal legislation places boundaries on the duration of time that children should be put in foster care before filing parental termination. As a result, it is now evident that most parents (women) are highly likely to lose their rights as parents due to serving for long in prison. These factors do not lessen the seriousness and the impact of women’s victimization in criminal activities but rather suggest that there needs to be a response to gender and crime, especially when women suffer the most from loose criminal law structure (Renzetti, 2006).
Other factors which enhance women’s victimization in criminal cases are programming. Programming is often inappropriate and inadequate. This leaves women ill-prepared to come back to society with more appropriate life skills and enhanced work. The recent changes made on the policy further raise the concern of a possibility of denial of education and welfare for fair criminal laws on victimization (Renzetti, 2006).
One of the key factors which have led to the rise of the population of women in prison has been the effect of the war on drugs. As will be revealed, the laws that have been set to enforce criminal justice, sentencing policies as well as practices that have been put under the above approach have had a disproportionate and dramatic impact on women. This has been a result of several factors which relate to both the situations in which the women are victimized to use and abuse drugs and the effects, whether it was intended or not, and the criminal justice policies. The report goes ahead to examine the confluence of the various factors in years back and how the criminal justice system has responded to the victimization of women in drug abuse and crime (Renzetti, 2006).
Sexual Violence against Women and Girls
The increasing body of data from recent wars of the previous decade has finally brought to light one of the serious crimes against women. The sexual abuse and torture of civilian girls and women have caused too much worry. The most disturbing thing however regarding the statistics from the recent past, and how rife the criminal injustice appears to have grown is violence against women. The rape cases are committed during armed conflicts. This type of sexual violence is more or less random. In some communities, some from the neighborhood usually take advantage of the chaos and conflict and commit sexual violence against women as well as girls. They do this without the fear of punishment. This can be attributed to the poor criminal and justice system in many countries. Although more men continue to lose more lives than women as a result of armed conflicts, women and girls are believed to suffer several degrading consequences of such wars. The Secretary-General of United Nations said that children and women are usually the targets and they comprise the highest majority of the victims and sufferers.
Sexual violence can also be systematic usually done by fighting the force for the sole purpose of bringing disability to populations and breaking the ties that exist within families and communities. In most of these instances, rape is usually an act of the public which is usually aimed at maximizing shame and humiliation. The Indonesian military in Timor Leste is believed to have raped the women in full view of their families and made the Timorese men sexually abuse Timorese women.
Sexual violence is also meant to instill fear in the local societies or to oppose an armed group. In most of these cases, the bodies of women are usually used as an envelope to send messages to the perceived enemy. Particularly in those conflicts are defined by tribal, racial, religious and so many other divisions. For instance, public rapes in Bosnia were used to scare away the entire community of Muslims. Other sexual violations are forced impregnation, genital mutilation, and HIV transmission. Rwandan women were also taunted by their genocidal rapists. They had promised to give them HIV transmission (Heimer, 2006)
Women and Violence
Violence is a crime that has affected very many women worldwide, in all educational and socio-economic spheres. It spreads to all cultures and all religious barriers and therefore impedes women to fully participate in society. Gender violence has taken a shocking variety which ranges from domestic violence, rape, child marriage, and circumcision of females. All of these are violations of very important human rights. On the other hand, the men offenders are in most cases are left free since society condones these crimes. They are viewed as part of the culture. This implies that no one takes such cases to court to prosecute the offenders. The victimization of women, therefore, increases day by day as a result.
Incest, Rape and Domestic Violence
Some women fall victim to violence even before their mothers give birth to them. This is in cases when pregnant mothers procure an abortion for their daughters who are not yet born, because they were hoping to give birth to sons. It is common for girls to be subjected to female genital mutilation leaving them traumatized and maimed. The offenders who are the men however are not jailed because society does not see anything wrong with the offenses. In case the woman proceeds to court, the society comes out in strong defense of the men. This situation has made the discrimination and violation against the rights of women escalate. The social structure to some extent does not believe in the judicial structure.
Victimization in Family Structure
There are some societies where girls are forced to marry at an early age even before they are mentally, physically, and emotionally mature. Most women are victims of rape, incest, and domestic violence. This situation may lead and in most cases leads to physical handicap, trauma, and death. Rape in most circumstances has been used as a weapon in wars, a plan to terrify and subjugate the whole community (Heimer, 2006).
In most countries when a wife is assaulted by her husband, it is not seen to be a crime. The wife is always expected to submit. According to the report received from the Special Rapporteur, it revealed that light sentences in most sexual assaults send wrong signals to the perpetrators and the public that female sexual victimization is not important. The problem, however, is that most of these offenses are viewed as part of disciplinary actions that the husband is allowed to take to correct his wife’s wrong behavior. If the husband is arrested by the authorities, no one files a suit against them for the offense committed. Therefore, women lose in most incidents.
In some countries, weddings are done after the dowry payment. If a dowry is not paid it may lead to violence (Alarid, 2006).
Prostitution and Trafficking
This occurs when most women are forced into prostitution mainly by their husbands, parents, or boyfriends. This is as a result of economic hardships and social problems they find themselves in. Some women are also forced to become prostitutes by ‘mail-order bride agencies which promise to get them husbands or jobs in a foreign. The problem is that prostitution is not legal in many countries and therefore commercial sex workers can’t ask for protection when they are victims of rape or they want to run away from brothels. The customers on the other hand are not objects of penal laws. The customers are usually men who are not prosecuted since the sex workers are not cannot come out and file suits against their male counterparts.
From the above essay, it is clear that women and girls are the most discriminated against. They are in most cases left at the mercy of the men and as result fall victims of crimes experienced in society. The situation needs dire attention. There is an urgent need to change and develop proper laws as well as government policies that protect women. The criminal justice laws already in place do not cater to all the needs of the female gender adequately and hence they are not properly enlightened and empowered. The possible reason why most are victimized is that they are not aware of the channels that are available to them when their rights are violated or they are discriminated against.
Most of the problems that they face can be attributed to weak judicial systems and weak social structures. Most societies do not view a woman as equal to a man in terms of abilities and desires. As a result, they are left out of major decision-making plans. There is a need therefore to change the stereotypical views which are upheld by many societies regarding woman’s place in the society. A woman is a round person; she gives birth, brings up children single-handedly and she is also the breadwinner in most families. On the other hand, a man serves his role only as a breadwinner in the family, and most cases are not fully involved in the process of bringing up a child. This is evident from the fact that women prisoners stay with their children while in prison whereas men do not.
It is important if the government systems looked into the situation critically and included special provisions for women in the criminal justice system. There should be better facilities for women in prison especially those with young children. They should also include guidance and counseling facilities for women in prison since there is a likelihood of them suffering from victimization and discrimination. Stiffer punishments should also be included for rape, incest, and forced female circumcision woman. This will consequently promote a woman’s worth in the eyes of the law.
- Alarid, L. & Cromwell, P. (2006). Women’s Offender’s Views on Crime and Victimization, Roxbury Publishing (Eds), US
- Hiermer, K. & Kruttschnitt, C. (2006). Gender and Crime: Patterns in Victimization and Offending, Roxbury Publishing, (Eds) US
- Renzetti, C. et. Al. (2006). Rethinking Gender, Crime and Justice, Roxbury Publishing, Los Angeles, CA.