Nature and Cause of Female Criminality in Bangladesh

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Chapter 1

1.1 Introduction

The term female criminality refers those kinds of crime which is committed only by female. It was believed till a few decades ago that crime is predominately a male phenomenon and the world of crime is only a male phenomenon and the world of crime is only a man’s world. The subject of female crime was totally neglected. But now a day the subject of female criminality has come into focus as the rate of female criminality is increasing at an alarming rate. The women are no longer thinks themselves uncompetitive with men and they are involved with every activity with men and as a result they are not getting fear to do risky and illegal jobs like crime. Most often the female are not directly associated to commit these crimes but they are directed by some situational factor like social and economic cause which influences them to commit crime.


1.2 Background of the Study

In early age the concept of female criminality was a unique matter to society because the society was male dominated and the women had a little scope to contribute with the works of men. The main duty was to house works and rearing children. As they couldn’t go outside the concept of crime was unknown to them and they were frightened to do any illegal work. But due to the change of time and development in the field of science and technology the negative and dominating attitude towards women began to disappear. Women represent the fastest growing criminal population, growing by almost a third over the course of the 1990s, and almost a third of all incarcerated women report having been on welfare in the period just prior to their arrest. And yet despite this apparent dramatic increase in the criminal behavior of poor women, the study of women’s criminality remains in its infancy. Drawing on life course theory, however, some feminist scholars are taking steps to address this hole in the literature, and the most striking finding to emerge from the field of feminist criminology is that the best predictor of female criminality is a history of sexual or physical abuse victimization. In the mid 1970s several factors converged to convince the public that changes were occurring in the rate and nature of crime among women and the female offenders also began to receive more attention during this time.

In the last few years the rate of female criminality is increasing in our country in an alarming rate and women are committing new types of crime and most of their crimes remain hidden because it is very difficult for the law enforcement agency to detect them as they are adopting new policy for committing crime. The chief type of female criminality in Bangladesh is drug trafficking, goods trafficking, status offender, hijacking, cheating, theft, prostitutions etc.

1.3 Statement of the problem

Most of the people observe the nature and types of female criminality and blame and react harshly towards the female criminal but it is true that most of them come in the profession of crime by influencing some factors. The reality is that in most cases women commit crime by various social and economic factors.

So there is a relation between socio economic factor and female criminality.


1.4 Objective of the study

In my study we want to show the relationship socio-economic cause and female criminality. My major objective of the study is how social and economic factors lead a female to involve herself in criminality. The main objects of our study is

?To find out the social cause of female criminality
?To find out how family influence female to involve in criminality
?To find out how defective family environment such as separation divorce influence female to involve in criminality

?To find out the economic cause of female criminality


1.5 Importance of the study

Women are always neglected in our country and due to the attitude of the society they are deprived from their rights .Sometimes it becomes difficult for them to survive in the society. As a result they adopt illegal policies to survive in the society and ultimately they become involved with crimes. Finding no way for livelihood they have to commit crime which is very much shocking. So the importance of this study lies on finding the social and economic factors that influence them to come in the world of crime.






1.6 Review of Literature

There is several literature of female criminality where female delinquency is described indifferent perspective and the cause of female criminality is discussed.

Biological theories (Cesare Lombroso, 1903), the most investigated "difference" between the sexes was biological. Cesare Lombroso (1903) identified the female physiognomy thought most likely to determine criminal propensity. This was the new science of "criminal anthropology" matching the general fascination with Darwinism and physical anthropology, where scientists sought pathological and atavistic causes for criminal behavior. While he credited criminal women as being stronger than men, the consequence was that prison would hardly affect them at all. Lombroso concluded true female criminals were rare and showed few signs of degeneration because they had “evolved less than men due to the inactive nature of their lives”. Lombroso argued it was the females’ natural passivity that withheld them from breaking the law, as they lacked the intelligence and initiative to become criminal.


Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud theorized that all women experience penis envy and seek to compensate an inferiority complex by being exhibitionistic and narcissistic, focusing on irrational and trivial matters instead of being interested in building a just civilization. William I. Thomas (1907) published Sex and Society in which he argued that men and women possessed essentially different personality traits. Men were more criminal because of their biologically determined active natures. Women were more passive and less criminally capable. In The Unadjusted Girl (1923) he argued that as women have a greater capacity to love than men they suffer more when they do not receive social approval and affection. The "unadjusted girls" are those who use their sexuality in a socially unacceptable way to get what they want from life. The female criminal forgoes the conventional rewards of domesticity by refusing to accept prevailing modes of sexuality and seeks excitement, wealth, and luxury: a pursuit that may conflict with the interests of the social group as it also exercises the freedom to pursue similar goals.


Sociological theory of female offending (Adler 1975)

Adler (1975) proposed that the emancipation of women during the 1970s increased economic opportunities for women and allowed women to be as crime-prone as men. While "women have demanded equal opportunity in the fields of legitimate Endeavour’s, a similar number of determined women have forced their way into the world of major crime such as white-collar crime, murder, and robbery" (Adler, 1975: 3). She suggested that as women are climbing up the corporate business ladder, they are making use of their 'vocational liberation' to pursue careers in white-collar crime. But feminism has made female crime more visible through increased reporting, policing and the sentencing of female offenders and, even then, the statistical base is small in comparison to men. Carlen (1985) argues that Adler's 'new female criminal' is cast as the 'biological female' who is essentially masculine. The 'new female' criminal turns out to be the 'old maladjusted masculinist female' of traditional criminology, rejecting her proper feminine role such as institutionalizing rather than incarcerating women who commit 'male' offences such as robbery, i.e. Adler's 'sisters in crime' appears to work within the frameworks of traditional criminology rather than a feminist one. For an examination of gender in crimes of violence, Alder).

A debate in the recent criminology literature has focused on the handling of female offenders as they are processed through the criminal justice system. There are two competing perspectives. The chivalry or paternalism hypothesis which echoes the perception of female inmates as victims, argues that women are treated more leniently than men at various stages of the male-dominated justice process as a function of the male desire to protect the weaker (Crew: 1991; Erez, 1992). The "evil women" hypothesis which parallels the female inmate as subhuman perspective holds that women often receive harsher treatment than men in the criminal justice system and suggests that this different treatment results from the notion that criminal women have violated not only legal boundaries but also gender role expectations (Chesney-Lind, 1984; Erez, 1992). Simon (1975) predicted that the criminal justice system would start treating men and women offenders equally. There is mixed empirical evidence for this emancipation or liberation thesis, and some would say that absolutely no empirical evidence exists for it and the notion is discredited (Chesney-Lind & Pasko 2004). Sex differentials in sentencing are subject to a variety of interpretations, and not all feminists want the criminal justice system to treat women equally. It seems that women are not committing the "big take" offences like stock fraud another white-collar crimes, or bank robberies. Instead, they are admitted to the justice system charged with committing different crimes. Wundersitz (1988) and Crew (1991) consider the chivalry and paternalism factors in the process.

Farrington and Morris (1983)

Farrington and Morris (1983) found some empirical evidence that women did receive less severe punishments, but female offenders are far more likely to be first-time offenders, and to have committed a less serious form of the relevant offence; they stole smaller or fewer items, used less violence, and so on. Prior history of offending, and seriousness of offence, is fundamental factors in determining severity of sentence, for any offender. Once these variables are entered into the equation, it is possible to conclude that female offenders are not being treated any differently from males in equivalent circumstances. However, the evidence does suggest that married women with a caring role are more likely to be treated leniently. This may be because they are expected to remain in the home to continue their dependent "maternal" function. Unmarried women or those in unconventional relationships tended to receive more harsh treatment, confirming a sentencing model based a cultural need to reinforce gender roles within a framework of heterosexual marriage or family life. Kruttschnitt (1982) who investigated the link between economic independence, informal social control, and heavier sentences for women. In a study of convictions in a Californian population in the 1970s Kruttschnitt found that sentence may differ with the extent to which a woman is economically dependent upon someone else for her day-to-day existence: the more dependent she is, the less severe her disposition. Thus, the degree to which a female offender can be shown to be under informal social control may produce a lighter formal sentence.


Chapman (1980)

Chapman (1980) studied the connection between labor force participation, and revealed an increase in female criminal activity during times of economic hardship. The smallest increases in arrests coincided with periods of the greatest increase in economic activity with the most common offence being that of shop lifting. These findings would seem to support a theory of a relationship between employment and crime rather than that offered by the 'women's liberation thesis'. When times are good, the offending woman appears to stabilize rather than escalate. An absence rather than availability of employment opportunities (liberation thesis) would seem a more plausible explanation for increases in female crime. Naffine (1987: 99) believes the criminal woman's motive appears more rational and straight forward than manifesting her gender-role concerns or seeking to compete with the criminal male.

Studies of patriarchy tend to look at everything from female membership in male- dominated professions to the "rape culture" with promotes female victimization. The study of patriarchy has also allowed feminists to uncover hidden forms of violence against women. For example, feminist critiques of pedagogy (how teachers teach) have become quite common, as education, particularly criminal justice education, becomes the domain for discovering examples of male-dominated thinking and examples of the marginalization thesis (women being reminded that they are only women, or men being reminded that they are bad – simply because they are not women).





Blocked Opportunity Theory

Blocked opportunity theory explains that juveniles are pushed into delinquency as a result of lack of access to opportunities that are legitimate avenues for the realization of a set of success goals. Thus, thos4e who are denied legitimate achievement of the success goals often turn to delinquency as a means of reaching desired goals or of striking back at an unfair system  Strain theory (Robert k.Merton, Albert K. Cohen, and Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin – 1938) Strain Theories are criticized by feminists as betraying a double standard. When male offenders commit a crime under certain conditions of opportunity blockage, their commission of crime is somehow seen as a "normal" or functional response. When women commit crime, Strain Theory views it as some sort of "weakness". Naffine (1987) probably represents the best example of this critique, but there are other critiques, such as the characterization of females as "helpmates" or facilitators of crime in the Strain Theories of Albert K. Cohen, and Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin.

The research methodology in Social Learning Theories, such as Edwin Sutherland's Differential Association Theory, is criticized for relying on male examples, using case studies of males only, and being a male-dominated perspective that glamorizes the male criminal, or at least the sociable, gregarious, active, and athletic characteristics of the male criminal. Similarly, Social Control Theories, such as Hirsch’s Social Bond Theory, focuses almost exclusively on social class at the expense of gender and race.

Feminists therefore concluded that the failure of criminology to research the issue of female criminality fairly either reflected a male-dominated discourse in which men primarily research male issues, or betrayed the rigidity of male stereotypes which allowed men to justify their prejudices with pseudoscience.

Economic Theory (Carl Marx (1818-1883), BongerVoltaire Rousseau, Beccaria and Bentham)

The proposition that economic life is fundamental, and, therefore, has the determining influence upon the social and cultural values are as old as the human civilization itself. This connotes that economic factors influence the nature and form of all social patterns and controls all other aspects of human life. Thus criminologists have tried to explained crime in terms of economic determinism. In the words of Carl Marx (1818-1883) economic conditions determine the general character of social political and spiritual processes of life and with the change of foundations, the inter superstructure is also rapidly transformed. Those who support this view concentrate on the economic aspect of crime and analyses the impact of economic condition on criminality. There assertion that economic forces have been interacting right from the inception of the human society has a historical background.

It is well known that in early societies and in early times when the economic resources were limited struggle for existence and survival for the fittest was the law of nature. There after as the society advance increase in production yielded surplus as a result of which the system of barter and exchange originated. Gradually money gained importance in human life so much so that it has now become the sole determining factor of a person’s social status in modern society. Aristotle the Greek philosopher commented that crimes are commented not merely fort the seek of meeting the necessities of life but also for acquiring superfluous things. He believed that crimes are mostly committed because of the acquisitive tendency of man and his greed for acquiring surplus wealth. Thinkers like Voltaire Rousseau, Beccaria and Bentham has agreed that economic structure is one of the causes of criminality.

1.7 Theoretical Framework

Different writers have expressed different explanations on the causes of female criminality. For the purpose of my research we used the following theories and explanations.

Blocked Opportunity Theory

Blocked opportunity theory explains that juveniles are pushed into delinquency as a result of lack of access to opportunities that are legitimate avenues for the realization of a set of success goals. Thus, those who are denied legitimate achievement of the success goals often turn to delinquency as a means of reaching desired goals or of striking back at an unfair system.

Social Control Theory

Travis Hirshi’s Social Control Theory states that criminal activities result when a female’s bond to the existing social bond become weaker though the family ties of female are more stronger then men due to their sex role in family.

Social Learning Theory

According to the learning theory criminal activities is a learned behavior’s the female can learn it from their family member, peer group, relatives and others. They can influence her to commit criminal activities.

Economic theory

According to economic theory the rate of crime increases when the economic condition are low such as poverty, unemployment are greater and crime decreases comparatively when economic condition if society remains better. So female involves more in criminality when do not earn their livelihood and get a suitable job

1.8 Conceptual Framework

Conceptualization is the process through which we specify precisely what we will mean when we will use particular terms.

Here the concepts are socio-economic cause of youth criminality

Variable: When concepts can have two or more degrees and values, they are referred to as variable.

The variable that causes effect is called independent variable

Dependent variable: The variable that depends up or is a consequence of other variable is termed as independent variable Socio-economic cause .




Female criminality

Here socio economic cause is in Independent variable and female criminality is dependent on variable.

Operationalization is the development of specific research procedures (operations) that will result in empirical observations representing those concepts in the real world. In a word it is the development of operational definitions


1.9 Hypothesis of the Study

A hypothesis is a tentative answer to a research problem, expressed in the form of a relation between independent and dependent variables. Hypothesis is tentative answers because they can be verified only after they have been tested empirically. Now my research hypotheses are given bellow:-


a) Support of family is the cause of involving in criminality


b) Defective relation with family is the cause of involving in criminality



Research Methodology

2.1 Methodology

Research methodology is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It may be understood as a science of studying how research is done scientifically. It is necessary for the researcher to know not only the research methods but also the methodology. The survey method is used to data collect in our research

2.2 Types of Research

There are mainly two types of research qualitative and quantative research. This is a

quantative research as it is concerned with quantative phenomenon.

2.3 Field selection

We have selected my field in Alamdanga thana of Chuadanga district as the rate of female criminality is high here.

2.4 Population

The inter set of relevant units of analysis or data is called population and a sample is a sub-set of population. The population of our research is the female criminals of Alamdanga thana of Chuadanga district.

2.5 Sample Selection

As the total population is unknown to us so we have used non probability sampling and we have selected my sample both by judgment and snowball sampling.


2.6 Sample size

The size of my sample is thirty-two respondents from whom we collected our data.

2.7 Data Collection Method and technique

There are two sources of data, primary & secondary. We collected primary data from the field and secondary data from secondary sources that are book, journal, and paper.

Data for this research have been collected from survey method. The technique of data collection is the use of questionnaire and i have collected data through questionnaire-interview. We used close ended, open ended and contingency questions for data collection from the respondents.

2.8 Data Processing and Analysis

Data will be analyzed by using both descriptive & inferential statistical tools. Findings are analyzed for survey data using descriptive & inferential statistics. The result will is presented in table form by univariate analysis (frequency distribution) bivariate analysis (correlation, cross table). Data have been processed& analyzed through SPSS software in computer.

Chapter 3 – Univariate Analysis

Here results are discussed through the following frequency tables and other statistical tools. These statistical tools show the clear picture of my research findings. The findings of our research are given below Frequencies


Table-1 Age of the respondent







Fig 1: Histogram









From the above histogram we find that 28% belong to the age group 30-40, 25% of the respondent belongs to the age group 20-30, 25% belong to the age group 40-50 19% belong to the age group 50-60 and 3% belong to the age group 60-70%.








From the above frequency table we find that 75% respondent is Muslim and 25% are Hindu.

Table-3: Family type






28% bear joint family and 28% bear extended family











From the above frequency table and Bar chart we find that 44% of the respondent bears nuclear family28% bears joint family and 28% bear extended family.





Fig 4: Histogram






Fig 3: Bar chart










Marital status

From the above frequency table and bar chart we it is found that 38% are married 19% are unmarried 22% are separated and 22 % are divorced









Fig 4: Histogram










From the above histogram we find that maximum respondents are illiterate and only few have Passed S.S.C exam.

Table-6: Occupation





From the above frequency table we find that 69% are housewife 28 % are in small business and 3% do other job.


Table-7: Total family income (monthly)







From the above frequency table we find that 8% respondent’s monthly family income is 7000-8000
















Total family income (monthly)

From the above histogram we find that 28% respondent’s monthly family income is 7000-8000. Table-8: Total family expenditure (monthly)







From the above frequency table we find that25% respondent’s total monthly expenditure are between7000-8000.








From the above frequency table we find that 38 % respondent’s father occupation is business 19 % are job and 44% are farmer.








From the above frequency table we find that 81% respondent’s mother is housewife 9 % are in small business and rests are in job.


















From the above frequency table we find that 41% respondent’s husband occupation is business 15.6 % are job and 25% are farmer and rest are unmarried.


Total family member






From the above frequency table we find that 53%, respondent bear to the member of 4-8.







Fig 6: Pie Chart












From the above pie chart we find that 37% live in own house and 63% in rented house.








From the above frequency table we find that 46% female criminal stay with family and 53% do not stay with family


Fig 7: Clustered Bar diagram











From the above clustered bar chart we find that 46.9% respondent stay with family and 53.1% donot stay with family. Among the non staying respondent 18.8% do not stay with family forseparation with husband, 29.4% for divorce, and 9.4% for poverty and the same for getting job


Table-15: Reason for not staying in family






From the above frequency table we find that 17%respondent do not stay with family for getting job18% for getting job 29% for divorced and 35% for separation.





Table-16: Time of separation or divorce









From the above frequency table we find that 12.5% respondent’s time of separation or divorce is one to two year.



Table-17: Cause of divorce








From the above frequency table we find that maximum female’s cause of divorce is either dowry or husband’s attitude.


Cause of loosing relationship


From the above frequency table we find that 20% loose relationship for defective family environment 40% for parent's separation 40% for parental rejection













Previous job







From the above frequency table we find that18.8% of the respondent’s previous job was Trafficking 12.5% respondent’s previous job was drug selling 15.6% respondents previous job was theft 18.8% respondent’s previous job was prostitution and 25% was worker



Fig 8: Bar Diagram










and bar diagram we find that18.8% of the respondent’s previous job was Trafficking 12.5% respondent’s previous job was drug selling 15.6% respondents previous job was theft 18.8% respondent’s previous job was prostitution and 25% was worker.



Table-20: Cause of leaving job












Fig 9: Pie chart










From the above frequency table and pie chart we find that 25% female left their previous job for risk 34.4% left their job for lack of money 22% left after being abused 18.8% left after police harassment.




Table-21: Present job







Fig 10: Bar Diagram













Present job


From the above frequency table and bar diagram we find that 50% respondent’s present job is drug selling 34.4% lead trafficking 6.3% lead theft and 9.4% lead cheating


Time of involvement with job







From the above frequency table we find that about 44% respondent involved with present job is between o to one year 25% between one to two year and only 9.4% involved between four to five year.  








Fig 11: Bar Diagram











Cause of involvement


From the above frequency table and bar diagram we find that 46.5% came into criminality for pressure of family, 46.5% came for poverty, 25% for not getting other job 3.1% for cheating and 12.5% came after parental rejection from the above frequency table we find that 25% came into criminality first by family member, 18.8% came by their peers group 46.9% came by relatives and 9.4% by others.



Person by whom introduced








Fig 12: Bar Diagram










Table-25: Family knowing






From the above frequency table we find that 66% respondent’s family knows about involving in criminality and 34% do not any.







From the above frequency table we find that 81% family has support on criminality and rests do not have.










From the above frequency table we find that 47% respondent faced police case while doing criminality and 53% didn’t face

Facing police case





From the above frequency table we find that 47% respondent faced police case while doing criminality and 53% didn’t face.


Table-29: Type of case







From the above frequency table we find that 12.5% respondent faced police case for drug selling, 6.3% for theft 18.8% for trafficking and 12.5% for prostitution


Chapter -5

Concluding Remarks

5.1 Summary

Mainly in my research I tried to show the social and economic cause of involving female in different criminal activities. Among the social cause I found that mostly family condition, relationship with family and support of family leads to female in involving criminality. The main findings are

?The female who doesn’t stay with his family are mostly involved with criminality

?the family in which most members are criminal that family has more support on

involving female in criminal activities.

?Good connection with police helps the female criminal in running criminal activities


?Poverty, unemployment compels the female in choosing criminal activities


?Most divorced and separated female are involved with criminal activities than married


5.2 Limitations


Although we have tried to complete our research very tactfully and responsibly, hence we

have faced some problems which I have indicated as my limitations. These are discussed below:-

1. I have some questions in our questionnaire which most respondents did not agree to


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