Crime is an old phenomenon in society worldwide tracing back to the biblical narration of human existence and suffering due to God’s punishment for disobedience. Since then, crime became part of human nature, occurring in social communities of every kind. Over the years, society associated crimes with males more than women leading to little attention regarding females in crime. Hence, female criminality is a quickly emerging and developing issue in society that needs immediate attention to control the rise of female crimes and curb the negative impacts of the phenomenon. Adverse effects of women involvement in crimes include lifestyle issues, loss of cultural conservation, and effects on quality of living since women influence community cohesion, family harmony, and social stability. To effectively control and prevent women from criminal behaviors, one must find the factors that drive the desire to commit the crimes. This study compares factors that contribute to high rate of female criminals in the United States and Bangladesh with a focus on how the position of women in the two communities influences criminal behaviors.
Female criminality is the act of women committing crimes individually or in association with others. There are numerous reasons influencing women’s engagement in criminal activities today, including family structure, cultural norms, societal edicts, economic factors, psychological issues, lack of education, gender roles, and their changing status in society today (Mitchell, 2017). All these factors can act independently to cause criminal behavior or interrelate to influence crime. For instance, the stifling position of women in different communities can lead to psychological issues such as frustration, loneliness, and mental disorder that result in committing crimes. Before the increase in female crime rates, women were involved in petty crimes such as shoplifting, begging, and prostitution. However, most criminal activities nowadays include major offenses such as drug and child trafficking, theft, robbery, murder, suicide, adultery, property crime, fraud, prostitution, and embezzlement. As a least developed country, Bangladesh shows higher female criminality rate than the United States at 66% and 43% respectively (Bhopal, 2020). Factors influencing women to commit crimes differ significantly from the vast difference in crime rate, with few remarkable similarities.
The changing roles of women in society are a leading cause of female criminality in the United States. Women’s participation in crimes is influenced by the masculine behavior caused by gender equality and changing roles of men and women (Mitchell, 2017). Nowadays, the female gender thinks of themselves as equal to men and can perform the same activities as males, including illegal acts and risky jobs, leading to criminal behaviors. The masculinization theory explains the increase in female crime in developed nations globally, such as the United States and Bangladesh (Mitchell, 2017). Empirical observation of the theory suggests that men actively engage in criminal activity due to their broad scope of social opportunities, networking, and criminal competencies (Mitchell, 2017). Likewise, empowering women influences the masculine tendencies and roles giving them the same chances of committing crimes.
Consequently, liberating women is another significant factor influencing the increased criminal tendencies in the United States. Traditionally, a woman’s societal role includes childbearing, rearing and caring, and housework. However, modernization and equal opportunities have led to educating women to obtain employment opportunities. Literacy is an essential factor in the modern world, which has helped reduce petty crimes and violent female offending. Regardless, allowing women to engage in education and higher learning has resulted in females committing more grievous offenses homicide and illegal firearm distribution. Lafree (2019) states that women’s involvement in fraud, embezzlement, and property crime in the U.S has increased significantly over the years leading to more arrest rates than male criminals. According to Mitchell, (2017), women commit more criminal activities at the workplace when they access highly specialized and well-paying jobs than women in lower positions. At the same time, influential and wealthy women are less likely to be charged with criminal activities than women with fewer opportunities in terms of finances, social networking, and job position. Overall, giving women opportunities reduces the risk of violent crime but increases corporate offenses such as embezzlement and property theft.
Despite women’s changing roles and position in society today, Bangladesh still maintains traditional gender roles, which limit liberalization. In the Bangladesh culture, women’s role includes childbearing and staying at home to look after domestic matters (Bhopal, 2020). Cultural norms that bind women to household duties are common in developing and least developed countries worldwide. Unlike developed nations, societal norms hinder education and employment opportunities. Contrary to the United States, where opportunity leads to more crimes, women in Bangladesh suffer ignorance, lack of opportunity, and high crime rates for sustenance.
Illiteracy is among the leading causes of female criminality in developing and least developed countries such as Bangladesh. Unlike the United States, women in Bangladesh have few opportunities and are unaware of their rights, which limits their knowledge of the right thing to do, leading to criminal offenses. Mitchell, (2017) research shows that lack of education causes financial strains, family maladjustments, and poverty, which causes the women to find alternative means of financial support by committing crimes. At the same time, women earning minimal wages are involved in more crime than those with high incomes. In contrast to the United States where women with high income and better employment positions commit significant offenses such as embezzlement, Bangladesh women have little privilege in the employment sector. Due to gender stereotyping, women occupy the least significant jobs with low incomes, which strains their finances. Thus, women commit crimes to enhance their economic situation.
The criminal justice system plays a massive role in increasing female criminality in the United States. The justice system is more lenient with the female offender than males leading to a low-recorded rate of female arrests. Favoring women in the justice system has dramatically influenced delinquent behavior and criminal activities among women since they are assured of leniency and absolution. Lafree (2019) argues that police seldom arrest women or exercises discretion during arrests. Consequently, women’s charges are hardly brought to court, or the courts tend to be lenient when the cases are brought forward. Women face the most negligible criminal charges due to sociocultural norms protecting women in society. In the United States and communities worldwide, women are perceived as vulnerable, less dangerous, and incapable of committing crimes demanding protection from societal danger and the justice system (Mitchell, 2017). However, today’s women have taken advantage of their vulnerability to commit serious offenses such as murder, armed robbery, modern-day slavery, and drug and child trafficking. Thus, combating female criminality requires equal application of rules and laws in all sectors of life, including the criminal justice system.
From a sociocultural perspective, women face fewer criminal charges and arrests due to societal chivalry and paternalism. Families and communities protect women from association with criminal activities to protect their honor and status in society. As a male-dominated community, men control all issues concerning the household, which shields criminal activities leading to more offenses. Similar to the United States, Bangladesh women take advantage of their vulnerability to commit crimes knowing they are sheltered under cultural dictations that view women as weak and incapable of crime. According to Bhopal (2020), Bangladesh women commit offenses as an act of rebellion and resistance to the cultural edicts, which suppress women from opportunities and inequalities. Therefore, communities need to redefine their sociocultural factors, which are sock imposing and influence criminal tendencies among women.
In conclusion, female criminality is an existing issue that is rising rapidly due to societal, economic, and cultural factors. Although both countries are experiencing a rapidly increasing rate of criminal activities among women, the arguments and causative factors of female criminality have vast differences in the two regions. Firstly, the masculinity theory does not apply to Bangladesh, unlike the United States, where the shifting roles of men have changed women’s traditional roles, promoting the masculinity effect. Secondly, women in Bangladesh have fewer opportunities than Americans. Regardless, the limited opportunities in Bangladesh and the abundance of chances and equity in the United States cause a rapid increase in female criminality in both countries. Bangladesh women commit crimes for sustenance and rebellion against oppression, while Americans take advantage of high labor positions to commit significant corporate crimes. Finally, sociocultural perspectives of protecting women significantly influence delinquent behaviors as women take advantage of their vulnerability to commit crimes. Considering the different perspectives of female criminality, the socio-economic aspects of a country define women’s motivation for criminal activities.
Bhopal, K. (2020). Gender, ‘race’ and patriarchy: A study of South Asian women. Routledge.
Lafree, G. (2019). Losing legitimacy: Street crime and the decline of social institutions in America. Routledge.
Mitchell, O. (2017). Meta-analysis and the relative support for various criminological theories. Measuring Crime & Criminality, 335–357.