FIndian women- an epitome of grace and elegance. Traditionally, we Indians associate meekness, humility, and culture with our women. Anyone who does not fall in this category is outrightly ostracized. If you are among those who believe that women are not capable of committing sexual crimes, you are in for a not-so-pleasant surprise. Read on.
Ayushi (name changed) was a small-time reporter who worked for a regional newspaper. Obviously, she was ecstatic when she got an opportunity to come to Mumbai and work for a publication house. Within a short span of two years, because of her hard work and passion for the field, she became the chief editor for the channel. However, her male subordinates started leaving the company. It came out much later that she made indecent advances on them and asked for sexual favours.
In another incident, two female employees were involved in sodomy cases at a school. The accused had sexually molested boys as young as three years of age. They also clicked pictures of young children and distributed them in a pedophile network.
Fact or Fiction?
Why is it so hard for us to believe that females are also capable of being sexual abusers? Perhaps it is because of our sanskars being so deeply ingrained in our head and heart that we cannot imagine women as perpetrators of sexual crimes. Clearly, some women choose to break this image in the most unfortunate manner.
If you have watched movies such as Horrible Bosses, you would know that some female bosses and supervisors do molest their employees on grounds of power and position. Most victims in such cases are afraid to bring these facts to light because of fear and possible social ridicule.
In a study conducted in the US (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538712.2015.978925 ), women who commit sexual crimes are not reported as much as their male counterparts. This makes it easy for them to go undetected and unnoticed. While laws pertaining to male sex offenders are pretty stringent, they are not the same for female sex offenders.
In another study performed in the UK (https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi429 ), it was concluded that less than 5% of sexual crimes against children involved a female perpetrator. A similar study in the US reported that this number may be as high as 20%.
It is likely that female sex offenders are prevalent in India. Already there are cases of some women implicating the men around them in false cases of sexual abuse, physical assault, and dowry. It is time to shed the perception that we have created in our head about women.
Why do Women Become Abusers?
There are significant differences between men and women when it comes to the reasons for which they abuse their victims. Female sex offenders and abusers often choose younger victims. On the other hand, their male counterparts are not too selective about the age of their victim. The reasons why women become sexual abusers may stem from narcissism or need for admiration.
In many cases, the accused belong to the teacher or lover group, comprising of women who are above the age of 30 years and their victims are just about 12 years old. What’s surprising? The fact that these women don’t even see this as an abuse.
Such women often do this because they want to feel loved and needed. In other words, they satisfy their emotional needs with their victims. They do this because they feel more powerful in this relationship.
Some women become abusers because they have an abusive partner. We also hear about couples involved in sexual crimes against children or young adults. Some women may have pedophilic tendencies and they naturally progress towards sexual crimes.
What Does the Law Say?
All across the globe, female sex offenders generally receive much lighter punishments than their male counterparts for committing the same crime. It was found that in the US, the average sentence for sexual abuse by a male was 6 – 31% longer than for women who did similar offences (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/sp-fso053012.php ). The authors of this study concluded that the judicial system in the US tends to treat female sex abusers much more leniently than males.
This is like the Indian belief that women are weaker than men and thus, they need to be treated like that. Of course, it doesn’t matter whether they are the victims or the accused. What are your thoughts about it?
Striving for equality is a great thing. Surely, women and men deserve equal treatment, equal opportunities and treatment across all walks of life. Should a crime have the same punishment for both men and women? What do you opine?