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Female Offenders: Gender Differences in Criminal Offense Characteristics

Official statistics clearly demonstrate an overall gender gap in crime, whereby males account for the vast majority of offenders. Moreover, gender differences emerge in the contextual details of particular offense types. The term offense gestalt has been used to capture these nuanced gender differences, encapsulating factors such as the offender–victim relationship, the degree of victim harm, and the underlying motivation that seemingly catalyzed the offense. Aside from prostitution, female representation is greatest in the realm of minor property crimes motivated by perceived economic necessity. When women do commit violence, these acts tend to be less serious in nature than those committed by their male counterparts. Rather than target strangers or casual acquaintances, women’s use of violence is typically relational in nature and directed toward familial ...

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