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Patriarchy's Dark Side: Female Criminality

By Shuvangi Das

“The rights are first demanded, then commanded and later snatched”.

Women have naturally emerged as the foundations of every community. A woman, particularly in a nation like India, is constrained by many conventional standards and is expected to fulfil the roles of procreator, nurturer, and defender of social custom, morality, and family cohesion. Women face numerous opportunities in both their professional and personal lives as a result of these expectations.

Most families do not support, appreciate, or accept a woman's decision to be self-sufficient, and such situations encourage women to rebel by providing them with a platform from which they are more likely to depart or commit a crime. In 2019, women made up 6.15 percent of all criminals convicted under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The number of women detained for cognizable offences between the ages of 18 and 30 years in 2018 (NCRB, 2018) was 64,369 (4.13 percent), which has increased to 1,91,508 (6.15 percent) in 2019. (NCRB, 2019).

Because of their impact on the rearing of children and the general fabric of society, women in confrontation with the law should be regarded a critical challenge. However, men dominate most criminal activities, and this disparity between male and female crime rates is the result of cultural expectations that are different for both genders. In general, the male member of society carries the responsibility of being the family's wage earner and defender.

In this situation, he is exposed to a great deal of competition outside the home, making it impossible for him to keep to the legal ways of reaching the expected goals within the given time frame. On the other hand, a woman's traditional job is to nurture her family within the four walls of her home, where she encounters little or no competition and is thus less likely to utilise unethical tactics to achieve her objectives.

According to psychologist Anchal Bhagat, the social environment has a significant role in the development of female offenders, particularly in patriarchal societies. Despite the Indian constitution's provision of equal rights and privileges, a woman's fate is unchangeable. She does not receive the credit and respect she deserves despite her equal commitment and good achievement in both her school and her workplace.

When she has to obey the dictates of a man of lesser competence, the problem multiplies, and her own viewpoint is cruelly crushed and overheard. She has been victimised solely because she is a woman. Bhagat went on to discuss how a victim might become a victimizer, citing Phoolan Devi, the bandit queen, as an example, Phoolan Devi was 11 years old when she married a thug in his forties who was terribly aggressive. Following that, she was subjected to a succession of abuses in her life, including domestic abuse, marital rape, gang raped for three weeks, and public humiliation. To exact her vengeance, she eventually became a dacoit.

When examining female criminality, the example of Phoolan Devi demonstrates that a woman's married situation merits special attention. A woman's marital status may play a crucial effect in her decision to participate in illegal activities. When compared to married women, unmarried women are more likely to get regular job. Corporations frequently choose to hire married men over married women in order to reduce the cost of paid maternity leave, adding to the ongoing discrimination against women in the workplace.

In an ironic twist, because women are already discriminated against at employment, this discrimination gives them an opportunity to get involved in crime. Furthermore, getting involved in criminal behaviour will need them to use less abilities.

Despite the fact that commercial sex exists in Indian society, it is not officially banned because there are no laws that punish sex workers. Some commercial sex acts, such as soliciting, maintaining brothels, trafficking, and pimping, are, however, illegal under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956). Women are victimised and their safety is jeopardised due to a lack of understanding about their basic legal rights, healthcare, and support from the government and society.

The ladies who have been coerced into it eventually have no way out. Once they make it to the top of the ladder, they work as brothel proprietors or drug dealers, among other illicit activities. Because of their aggravation with emotional, mental, and physical violence, these women tend to victimise others in order to prevent themselves from being victimised.

Another state of affairs that is not recognised by the Indian judicial system is Battered Women Syndrome. It's a psychological illness that can arise when a person is subjected to long-term abuse in a relationship. Abuse can take the form of sexual, physical, or psychological aggression. Women develop acquired helplessness as a result of recurrent maltreatment. They have given up hope that the attack will ever stop. The threat of more assault also prevents them from telling someone else about their concerns. The idea of Battered Women Syndrome has not been adopted by the Indian judiciary to explain why a woman's actions in self-defence against an abuser are justifiable.

In terms of criminology theory, authors such as Otto Pollak (The Criminality of Women, 1950) say that women commit concealed crimes such as poisoning murders, crimes against children, and so on because of their cunning and dishonest behaviour gained through sexual socialisation. Role theory has been utilised by Frances Heidensohn (1968) and Marie Andree Bertrand (1969) to define how society instils gender roles in girls and boys from birth.

Girls are subjected to rigorous surveillance and social limitations in society. Girls are taught to be docile, docile, nonviolent, and kind, and are encouraged to learn more about nurturing jobs rather than fighting or wielding a weapon. Boys, on the other hand, are encouraged to be aggressive and participate in activities that reflect masculinity. As a result, when girls grow up, they do not participate in combats or crimes that require them to use their physical might to threaten someone. They become more interested in small thefts, poisoning, and other types of crime that require less "masculine labour."

Prostitution, drug addiction, and female juvenile delinquents have all been linked to the women's liberation movement and the way women project assertiveness, according to Freda Adler (Sisters in Crime: The Rise of the New Female Criminal, 1975). She claims that educated women and girls are more willing than ever to defy traditional gender norms and limits. Bajpai and Bajpai discuss the frustration and helplessness that a woman feels as a result of the lack of support and discrimination she faces on a daily basis. The clash is inescapable in their fight for their rights. They put it in a really strong way.

'The Drug Queen of Mumbai,' Shantadevi Patankar (Baby), had originally turned to drug selling to support herself and her two young sons. In the 1980s, she worked as a milk vendor in the city until she realised she could earn much more money selling narcotics. She was ultimately apprehended by Mumbai police in 2015 after more than 30 years in the drug industry.

Finally, in a woman's social context in which she is in confrontation with the law, it is necessary to examine her childhood, sexual socialisation, positions in their respective families, personal relationships with her in-laws, and job interests. Society has a significant impact on a woman's life span; whether or not she becomes an offender is heavily dependent on the type of life she is leading and the opportunities available to her if she wants to change it. The irony is that these possibilities are frequently not of her choosing, but rather are provided to her by society — either directly or indirectly. Furthermore, these possibilities are restricted, and they may be forced to make a decision.


Name: Shuvangi Das

Semester/year: 4th semester; 2nd year (completed)

University: Xavier Law School, XIM-U

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