It has become, sadly, typical to hear of appeals for information on male sex offenders – yet when the perpetrator is female, it always seems much more shocking. But why? The fact is most people know very little about female perpetrated sex crimes and what they do know is often far from accurate.
Female sex offenders are viewed as a rare and peculiar phenomenon, but this is far from the truth. Determining how common female perpetrated sexual offending is a very difficult task, but an international study last year found that the proportion of sex offenders who are female is higher than previously thought. Although they constituted 2.2 per cent of sexual offences officially reported to the police, the rates discovered in victimisation studies were six times that amount. That means more than one in nine sexual offences are committed by women.
Women are labelled the ‘fairer sex’; carers and nurturers and the ones only ever on the receiving end of sexual assaults by men. The worrying thing is that these cultural views have also been shown in a number of studies to prevail among police officers, psychiatrists, social workers and other professionals who deal with the victims and perpetrators of this type of abuse.
They result in a reluctance to believe victims or a minimisation of the seriousness of what they have experienced. Cultural stereotypes mean that female sex offenders are only believed to be capable of their crimes as a result of being either mentally impaired or coerced by male aggressors.