This essay is going to discuss how adequately has criminology explained the reasons why women offend and why women commit far less crime than men do. However, so that this essay will be more understandable it is going to include some extra information about women and crime in general. For example, how are criminal women are faced from the states, the main factors that influence the female criminality (biological-social factors). Crime is defined as 'an act or omission prohibited and punished by law' (Collins, 1995, p. 376).
Hence, crime 'is the violation of criminal law for which formal penalties are applied by some governmental authority. It represents some type of deviation from formal social norms administered by the state' (Schaefer & Lamm, 1998, p. 201). Moreover, everyone, poor-rich, women-men, boys-girls and so on, can commit the act of crime. However, the criminality of women is a deteriorated field of research, as even criminological research is influenced by the cultural stereotype, which supports the notion that women do not commit so many crimes and that men are the criminal violators of the law.
Let's try to find out, if this stereotype should exist or should not and how well criminology explain its existence. Many authors have tried to explain and analyse the female criminality and most of them have accepted the results of the criminal statistics that support that the degree of women in crime is lower than the degree of male participation in crime. However, each author has given his own explanation for this matter. The most popular division that was made for the better explanation of the fewer criminal acts in the female sex was that of the biological and that of the social factors.
As far as the biological factors are concerned, it is argued that they can not explain the phenomenon without the interaction of the social factors, however they have a great importance for making the social characteristics more understandable. The biological analysis is based on three main elements. The first one concerns the male superiority in physical strength, the second one has to do with the effects that cause the psychological development and finally the last one discusses the great influence that have the generative phases of women upon the development of their criminal instincts.
The first point explains their low participation in crimes that include violence, even when they commit a murder they do not use violence. A cultural stereotype is that women are not strong enough even to pull a trigger and therefore they usually poison their victims. Furthermore, they choose weaker victims such as children, the frequency of children among the victims of female offenders is great (Gross1905 p. xii; Sauer 1993 p. 227; Pollitz 1925 p. 128). Their physical weakness leads them in using more dissembling ways for achieving their illegal targets.
This is also the main point on which Pike (1876) based his explanation about the lower degree of female criminals. In addition, there is the precocious biological maturity, which strongly affect the criminal instincts of young girls. From some charts about the developmental conditions (Healy, 1915 p. 286) that had to do with weight correlated with age came as a result that overdeveloped girls had a greater tendency for committing a crime than overdeveloped boys did.
This result is not adequately supported from the biological aspect, however the nature of the criminal tendencies that occur from this phenomenon create another point, which is called logical precocity. Healeys (1915) explanation about this result was that there is a stressed feeling among the psychological desire and its mental control by a sufficiently mature person. However, it is claimed that the reason of these results is more the increased opportunity for a girl than her desire of a premature sex urge (Gillin, 1945 p. xii) Finally, the third part of the biological analysis concerns the influence of women's procreative phases.
These phases are basically, the menstruation, the pregnancy and the menopause. Although many women have committed their criminal acts during these phases of their lives, there is not enough evidence to connect their deviant behaviour with their biological condition. Consequently, these phases can be used as an excuse for a female after she committed a criminal action Menstruation seems to be something very simple without any psychological effects, however it has been proven that it brings fear and guilt to both sexes in all cultures (Healey, 1915, p. 145).
Psychology has explained this fear by supporting that the process of bleeding suggests the infliction of an injury and children understand injuries as punishment for guild. So when they grow up and become aware of it, they interpret it as a punishment, this happens also because they usually are punished more from their mothers at the time of her menstruation. 'The menstruating woman has a claim to special consideration by the judge she is at this period 'unwell' and more or less psychologically disturbed.
Abnormal irritability, attacks of melancholia, feelings of anxiety, are common phenomena. Inability to get along with the husband and domestics, ill treatment of otherwise tenderly cared for children, emotional explosions, libellous acts, breach of peace, resisting authority, scenes of jealousy, craving of alcoholic beverages because of physical pains, neurotic and anxiety conditions are everyday experiences with innumerable individuals' (Pollak, 1978, p. 128). However, these moods can be confined and some days earlier or some days later of the menstruation.
European authors managed to find some evidence to support a correlation between menstruation and female crime exists. Lombrosso (1911) found out that 71 girls out of 80 were on the period of menstruation while they committed the crime of resistance against public officials. In addition, Le Grand du Saulle (1890) observed that among 56 shoplifters 35 were females and the 63% of them were on the period of their menstruation. It is also stated that there is a considerable crime increment of female crime, at periods of pregnancy when at the same time a woman would have her menstruation under normal conditions.
As the menstrual cycle do not lose so easily the great influence that have on the psychological impact on the female biology. Furthermore, there has not been any criminal statistic evidence that could make pregnancy to be a crime-promoting factor. Finally as far as the menopause is concerned, it also has a great importance for the criminality of women as during this phase of their life, women go through biological changes. These changes create important imbalances and similar effects to that created by the menstruation days.
At this period it has been observed that a lot of females have committed crimes. The other factor on which criminology has tried to base its explanation for the lower participation of females in crime is the impact of the environmental and social factors in the life of a woman. The main and most important factors are the differential association, the cultural basis of the desires of women offenders for the results of their criminal behaviour and the accessibility of the object of their criminal attacks.
A strong influence that could be considered as a criminal-promoting factor is a broken home. It has been observed that girls who lived in a house of divorced parents or in a "bad" family environment have a stronger tendency to act illegally. This is a consequence from the need that girls have for new contacts, which is possible to be contacts of a criminal nature. According to several researches, it has been found that the percentage of female offenders who become from a broken home is great.
Glueck' study (1934, p. 72) showed that 58. 4% was from broken homes and Katherine Du Pre Lumpkin (1931-32 p. 225) found a Proportion of 63. 5%. Furthermore, Shideler (1917-18 p718) made his study in general population and found that 25% of the offenders come from a broken home. Because of these studies it has become a doctrine, which is widely accepted for delinquent girls, while the respective doctrine with regard to delinquent boys has been largely abandoned.