PSY 486: Psychology of Criminal Sexuality
The purpose of this paper is to analyse how female sexual offenders are treated and perceived in public. The study begins by examining the historical issues of women sexual crimes, and factors that motivate delinquents to commit such an unlawful act. The paper then presents my personal view on female sexual offenders and potential future direction on the topic. Currently, the media use a number of influential methods to depict feminine sexual criminals in a bad light.
By demonising these felons in a negative way, mass communication generate a stereotype for the entire society to adopt. The research also outlines how the criminal justice system reacts to female sex abusers. It suggests that there is the need to develop women-oriented treatment programs. The paper advocates the fact that in order to reduce the amount of sex crimes committed by women it is required to increase awareness through education and training strategies. Having recognised these problems, the study then elaborates the psychological impact of female sexual offenders in penitentiaries, and the ways, in which they are treated by professional and correctional officers.
The research concludes that, while official reports indicate that sexual crime rate among women is on the rise, it is still a concealed taboo in the society. The multidimensional effort has to be expended by all stakeholders to acknowledge and raise awareness pertaining past denial of women sex offences. Therefore, the cases of female sexual abuse can be effectively handled.
Keywords: sexual offenders, female, psychological, crime, victim
Female Sexual Offenders Meaning
Many years ago, sexual offenders were mainly males. Actually, it was strange to think of a woman as a sexual criminal. Today, more females are arrested for incest, molestation, rape and other forms of sexual crimes. Surprisingly, even female teachers who are supposed to be the custodians of sexual morality are found guilty of committing sexual offences with underage students. Women sexual abusers have not been given media coverage as male delinquents. Sexual felons comprise a heterogeneous group of persons.
The term sex offender by its nature depicts a criminal act such as child sexual abuse, rape, exhibitionism, consensual sex among teenagers or even child sexual abuse. Sexual delinquents can be youngsters or adults, female or male, and they may be close relatives of a victim, acquaintances or strangers. The studies indicate that while on 25% of the total sexual crimes involve females as perpetrators, 80% of these cases go unreported (Chan, Frei, & Myers, 2013). The perfect example is a recent interrogation conducted by Lisa Ling of the Oprah Winfrey show, where she interviewed a woman who had committed over 100 counts of sexual molestation and rape of juvenile boys but was only charged for 15.
In the United Kingdom over 64,000 women commit sexual offences against children. The research further revealed that a fair proportion of adolescent abusers are not men. A conservative estimate showed that 20% of 320,000 cases of sexual abuse reported annually in Britain are connected with female criminals. However, these delinquents normally have diverse attributes and intentions for committing their unlawful acts. This research paper will examine female sexual offenders, prevalence of the crime, the present view on feminine sexual crime, the ways of preventing it and the future direction of the issue.
Historically women are portrayed as caring and nurturing, hence an alleged offender tag has never been taken serious especially by media reports. Sexual crimes have existed in our societies for a long time. In the past, these felonies were predominately committed by men. Unfortunately, in recent years female perpetrators have been growing at alarming rates. Osinuga (2013) observed that it was not until earlier 1980s that statistics on women sexual offenders became available, and just lately it has come to the fore as a psychological issue. Surprisingly, the society is still reluctant to appreciate that female sexual abuse is a real problem ailing our modern public.
Most feminine sexual crimes occur in care provision centres, in the context of their role as caregivers and nurturers, in family homes, nurseries and schools. As a rule, women sex offenders have the troubled and abusive background and their interaction with parents, guardians or foster families are most often injured by bad experience (Williams & Bierie, 2014). Personal lives of female lawbreakers are crowded with neglect, insecurity, rejection and emotional dependence. Moreover, many felonious women have been victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse in the past and can hardly remember being cared for or loved in their childhood.
They used to seek revenge for their own sex assaults in the early years in order to inflict harm to vulnerable groups in the society such as children and to some extent assailable members of their families. Unlike male gender sexual offences where the malefactor commits the unlawful act in most cases alone, from 50% to 70% of female sexual crimes happen with the support of accomplice (Chan, Frei, & Myers, 2013). The studies indicate that those who are forced into sexual offending were themselves sexually abused.
The statistical finding presented above clearly proves that female sexual crime is on the rise. The empirical results also support the perception that feminine sexual delinquents are insignificant in our society because women sexual abuse is extremely rare (Briken, Bourget, & Dufour, 2014).
Whilst men-perpetrated sexual felonies are more prevalent, this does imply that these few cases of women sexual abuse do not have any harmful effects on victims. The fact that women sexual offences are uncommon affects public understanding of the illegal act and the way criminal justice experts respond to female perpetrators. The historical picture of women as the caring and gentle gender has become perplexed when the cases of female sexual crimes are handled. Moreover, another difficulty arises for psychologists who are trying to explain the extent of the decay of our modern community (Hayes & Baker, 2014).
Female Sexual Behaviours and Motivation of the Offenders
Female sexual offender undergoes the same process of sexual arousal in response to deviant thoughts, images or fantasies just like male abusers. Women develop arousal patterns, which can be easily associated with certain sexual behaviors and activities that are often related to particular age categories like adolescents or a certain peer pressure group, which enjoy inflicting pain and suffering to others.
Female sexual criminals usually go through the same grooming process as their male counterparts although the former are less likely to commit the crime with their own children. Felonious women whose target involves kids, entice them using bribes, entrapment or through pornography or alcohol in order to reduce resistance from the victim (Williams & Bierie, 2014).
The motivation of sexual offence among females is mostly driven by jealousy, longing for physical and emotional closeness or the desire to revenge for the sexual ordeal experienced in the past (Plesch, Sacouto, & Lasco, 2014). Often delinquents unhealed wound and pain are conveyed to the injured party. Some women wrongdoers repeat the patterns of sexual abuse because they perceive it as a normal thing. Sometimes money is the sole motivating factor in committing sexual crimes.
Characteristics of Female Sexual Offenders
Almost all female offenders in many countries of the world are adults. The research reveals that 77% of women sexual malefactors commit the act with male accomplices. Additionally, 31% blame their historical background as the determining factor while 59% of adult women prone to sexual abuse have mental problems (Budd, Bierie, & Williams, 2015). In the United States of America, the majority of female sexual offenders oscillate between criminal justice and medical framework. The greater number of female sexual delinquents in most states are aged 35 years old and more (Osinuga, 2013).
In some countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America, women criminals are over 45 and in most cases, their targets include high school male students.
The analysis was conducted involving ten studies from the United States of America, Wales and England with a total sample of 6,673 adult female sex abusers released by law enforcement agencies. It provided classification of offenders according to the relationship with the victims of sexual crime.
The results showed that 4526 delinquents perform the unlawful act with either underage family members or relatives; 1208 women felons committed the crime with acquaintances while the remaining 939 in the hands of law enforcement agents inclined to sexual offense with either their students or strangers (Cortoni, 2015). Consequently, this implies that over 675 of female malefactors resorted to such an action with the juvenile members of their families or close relatives.
The Nature and Prevalence of Female Sexual Offending
Female sexual offences vary on a wide spectrum of behavior ranging from non-contact forms such as exhibitionism to contact ones such as rape. Much of the studies on the nature of women sexual crime are focused on narrow spectrum such as incest, sexual assault and child molesting. Incest is a common delinquency among women criminals The latter are more likely to abuse this type of sexual activity. The researches indicate that as compared to women who molested juveniles with the assistance of an accomplice, those who perform such an illegal act independently were more likely to have been seriously raped before 10 years old.
The male victims of molestation are often embarrassed and in most cases, they do not report on these incidences. Female offenders tend to prefer younger boys especially of their families, acquaintances or close relatives because they perceive them as safer choices. Moreover, prevalently, women lawbreakers show a tendency to be gentle with their prey during the ordeal.
The studies indicate that most sexual offences committed by females involved family members and acquaintances (Plesch, Sacouto, & Lasco, 2014). In the school setting, sexual criminals are mainly female teachers and teenage students become their victims. Empirical evidence indicates that 28% of male sufferers of sexual abuse were first raped when they were ten years old or younger. The research outlines that female delinquents only account for less than 5% of all sexual crimes committed against minors worldwide. It is difficult to rely on correct statistics pertaining to female sexual offences in society because many cases go unreported for diverse reasons.
Furthermore, this is typical that women malefactors target adolescent students of school age. Such lawbreakers generally regard their acts as a harmless mechanism of training their victims in sex and sexuality. Therefore, due to the perceived nature of the felony, perpetrators do not recognise that the offence they commit is a criminal act. Additionally, this form of sexual abuse is commonly referred to the mainstream media as a relationship rather than sexual assault.
Sexual offenders in most cases tend to have problems in their social interactions. The studies reveal that the families of female criminals are normally dysfunctional and chaotic. As young girls, they are observed to be quiet, such children isolate themselves from other kids and appear to be aloof from the rest of the world. They have poor interaction skills with fellow classmates of both genders and sometimes show physical aggression. At some stages in their lives, female sexual delinquents are prone to suicidal ideations, self-mutation and depression.
Psychological Impact of Female Sexual Offender at Correctional Facilities
All over the world, female sexual offenders are confronted with unique circumstances, which they are supposed to react and adapt to in order to survive at correctional facilities. Women felons face a number of behavioural and psychological challenges in penitentiaries, which influence their ability to interact with one another effectively and to become productive members of the society. Due to their highly developed cognitive skills, female adult sexual abusers are more likely to become victims of behavioral and psychological problems in comparison to juvenile delinquents. Many lawbreakers have to endure the pain of imprisonment under conditions that may cause immense behavioral and psychological distress.
Incarceration might be harmful to mental health of an inmate. The number of adults with severe mental illnesses in jail has rapidly increased, and prisons are now considered to head the list of the most mentally damaging facilities around the globe. The research indicates that at least 50% of convicts suffer from psychiatric illnesses (Cortoni, 2015). The further studies demonstrate that about 10% to 25% of female prisoners in the United States have serious mental disorders compared to the national average of about 5% of major psychiatric disease cases.
Difficulties in offering effective health treatment in correctional centers have worsened the situation. Thus, inmates become reluctant to reveal their mental problems to the environment where they do not feel psychologically secure (Anderson, 2014).
Apart from deprivation experienced in everyday life in jail, another psychological concern arises when female sexual offenders are locked in isolated confinement facilities. When dangerous sexual delinquents are imprisoned in their cells for 23 hours per day or more with minimum or no meaningful social interaction at all, most of them start encountering depression, anxiety, panic, hallucinations, and rage. Overcrowded penitentiaries also deteriorate psychological well-being of female lawbreakers and increase risks of committing suicide (Cortoni, 2015).
Women malefactors, especially those during their prime years, also lack purposive actions and may resort to abusing substances. Furthermore, they can become aggressive, bully, suspicious of each other, and might develop unsympathetic attitude.
Mentally ill female sexual offenders are likely to be violent and defiant, they comply with prison rules and regulations in the same way the other inmates do, and this is quite challenging for correctional officers (Anderson, 2014). A criminal with psychiatric disorders may experience irrational or uncontrollable fears and extreme mood swings, which can be hard to handle. Moreover, these malefactors may express their mental disease via disruptive behavior such as fierceness and cruelty; they may suddenly refuse to follow routine orders, for example, to obey the headcount, to leave the penal institution, or to take shower (Anderson, 2014).
Present Perception on Female Sexual Offending
Sexual offending is perceived in the society as male dominated crime. The reason is that the pervasive gender-based stereotypes present women as nurturing and caring individuals who are unlikely to get involved in harmful or aggressive sexual behavior towards others. The sexist belief that portrays men to be in charge of all sexual activities and females as submissive and passive recipients has played a central role in underscoring the increasing cases of female sexual delinquents. In addition, professional biases have been crucial in formation of the present view of female criminals. The studies reveal that the training of police officers is inclined to portraying males as the prime sexual offenders and women as the victims of the ordeal (Briken, Bourget, & Dufour, 2014).
Hence, this prejudice together with the sex role stereotypes embedded in several societies, affect the reaction of law enforcement agencies. The further research demonstrated that law enforcement officials reacted with disbelief when the cases of female sexual crimes were reported to them and viewed women delinquents as less harmful compared to male perpetrators. Thus, mostly female lawbreakers are released as the law enforcement agencies term the sexual allegation against women as unfounded to stand full trial in a court of law (Plesch, Sacouto, & Lasco, 2014).
Similar ideas have been identified in mental, medical as well as cultural stereotypes, diagnostic criteria and training are believed to influence professionals when dealing with cases of female sexual offenders. During treatment and rehabilitation of female sexual abusers, psychiatrists, nurses and correctional officers perceive these malefactors as less harmful and culpable; hence, medical care and recovery are not rigorous leading to the possibility of repeated offence (Hayes & Baker, 2014).
The false narrative about female delinquents has become a major bottleneck in the fight against growing incidences of feminine sexual crimes. As a result of such a sad state of affairs, the cases of sexual offenses committed by women and adolescent girls are less likely to be reported. However, even if they were reported to the law enforcement agencies, the officials would be reluctant to pursue such investigations to the logical conclusion within the confines of criminal justice system for the sake of victims welfare (Tydykova, 2013).
Thus, these cultural and professional barriers make individual injured parties reluctant to make a claim about i female-perpetrated sexual crimes. The situation becomes even more complicated especially when adolescent do not report on sexual abuse committed by female peers or adults because of fear of questioning about their sexual identity. Similarly, juvenile boys who are sexually molested by grownup women may be psychologically affected.
Treatment and Rehabilitation of Female Sex Offenders
When treating and rehabilitating female sexual offenders, physicians need to focus not only on the crime but also on the root causes of it. Statistics from a sexual treatment program in the United States of America revealed that 33% of the programs offer services to women delinquents. Over 350 programs assist adults and more than 250 provide treatment and rehabilitation services to adolescent girls (Osinuga, 2013).
While nearly 60,000 grownups and close to 38,500 adolescents enrolled in these programs, the statistics represent less than 10% of female clients received medical care during the whole process of treatment and rehabilitation in the USA. The criminal justice frameworks perceive women who commit sexual offences as analogous to other felons, and therefore, they are supposed to enroll in treatment and rehabilitation programs in order to modify their behavior. On the other hand, medical models recognize female sexual criminals as mentally ill with sexual disorders.
For instance, sexual predator laws in the United States of America are drafted on the medical model, which gives malefactors the chance to be diagnosed with mental diseases. If one is found to be suffering from sexual ailment, correctional measures such as treatment and rehabilitation are administered (Budd, Bierie, & Williams, 2015).
Additionally, this law allows civil commitment of female sex offenders who have completed the treatment and rehabilitation programs, to continue staying at the penal institutions if they portray abnormal mental condition or sexual disorder. Therefore, those who are likely to commit sexual crimes once they are released from the penitentiaries will be bound to mental healthcare facilities ("Investigating Sexual Violence and Abuse", 2016).
Female sexual offending is sometimes perceived as incurable illness even when the delinquents pose serious danger to the society. While previous recovery programs struggled for a long-lasting solution, modern rehabilitation programs are more effective and in a span of fewer than 24 hours they demonstrate considerable impacts on the severity and frequency of female sexual crime (Osinuga, 2013).
The fundamental focus of these healthcare and recuperation programs is to minimise recidivism. The previous examination of psychological medical attendance to women criminals indicates that it had little or no effect on mitigating repeated offence. Treatment and rehabilitation programs were psychotherapeutic in nature and aimed at helping female felons to gain insight of why they resorted to such an unlawful act. However, the programs appeared to be ineffective to meet current standards of female sexual delinquents recovery, which requires the multidimensional approach (Budd, Bierie, & Williams, 2015). Modern rehabilitation involves all the stakeholders in order to yield sustainable outcome of the process (Hayes & Baker, 2014).
The up-to-date treatment programs focus on relapse prevention and cognitive-behavioral therapy (Anderson, 2014). The former trains wrongdoers to identify situations that pose specific risks while committing sexual crimes and offers them avoidance, coping or escaping tactics that are tailored to individual female lawbreakers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy concentrates on the range of criminogenic requirements and teaches appropriate skills in the manner that is understandable and easily receptive (Mela & Ahmed, 2014).
Contemporary recuperation intervention is practised in a group context, which fits the environment in most correctional facilities and rehabilitation centers. Furthermore, modern treatment programs address various criminogenic needs such as cognitive distortions pertaining offending and victims conduct, poor anger management, low self-esteem as well as insufficient social skills, sexual motivation, denial and mitigation of crime, lack of intimate relationships, together with the deficiency of empathy towards sufferers among other concerns.
Correctional facilities can provide a great opportunity to encourage female sex felons to participate in rehabilitation programs while serving their sentence for wrongdoing ("Investigating Sexual Violence and Abuse", 2016).
Challenges, Faced by Female Sex Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation Programs
While treatment programs available at penitentiaries may aid in rehabilitation and mitigation of effects associated with prolonged imprisonment, there is a number of setbacks concerning recovery programs. However, the latter are extremely expensive to administer. Furthermore, most jurisdictions in different parts of the world deny access to these programs for female sex offenders who refuse to take responsibility for their sexual crimes. For instance, many countries in Australia do not enrol delinquents who do not account for the unlawful act (Mela & Ahmed, 2014). Furthermore, female murderers are excluded from treatment programs by legislation in Australia. In addition, female sexual criminals, especially those with a serious and prolonged history of predatory behavior, complicate their recuperation. Therefore, dangerous offenders are not in a position to access services such as psychological health support. Accommodation of the growing numbers of women delinquents at the correctional facilities also presents a challenge mainly in the United States of America where the capacity of these institutions has been strained.
The Future of Female Sexual Offences
Providing information about female sexual offending is one way of addressing the issue. Awareness of facts about feminine sexual abuse is one of the preventive measures, which can be taken by the government and other relevant agencies that will enable them to make an informed decision on the best solution of the problem (Cortoni, 2015). Since societies continue to acknowledge raising cases of female sexual crime, there is the need to adopt the law regarding effective punishment of lawbreakers. Male victims of female sexual violence should be encouraged to report the ordeals to law enforcement agencies.
By public admission that female sexual delinquents are not different from the male ones, the accurate statistics these type of felonies will be available, and the necessary correctional mechanism can be provided to consider the matter. Parent should be careful with the person they leave their children with, for example, as caregivers because often these people appear to be abusers of juveniles under their care. Moreover, parents should play an active role in raising their children because upbringing is crucial in determining emotional strength of kids and influences their sexual identity.
In conclusion, the cases of female sexual offences are on the rise. The reason is historical perception of women as harmless, nurturing, harmless, caring and gentle individuals. Today, they commit crimes, which have the potential of inflicting mental and physical harm to the very persons for whom they morally care. Furthermore, sexual abuse perpetrated by women is not in tandem with cultural and societal construction of femininity. Thus, the society refuses to accept the idea that those females are capable of resorting to sexual offences, despite the increasing instances of the latter.
The paper revealed that even if women commit sexual crimes especially with children, they perform in a non-violent, less aggressive manner when compared to men. However, the truth is that the experience and ordeals, which the victims of women sexual delinquent undergo, are just as harmful as for the injured party of male felonies. In fact, female sexual abuse is more damaging psychologically, as it also entails the breach of trust. If society, in general, can appreciate the mental issues surrounding female sexual crime, then it can play a central role in solving the problem.