She’ll be out of prison in three months, on licence. How many YEARS would a 48-year-old male teacher who’d sexually abused a ‘vulnerable’ girl of 17 have served? And in far worse prison conditions, in all likelihood.
There’s always a ‘mitigating circumstance’ for women. Here it is, in this case:
Kama Melly, defending, said the most serious offence took place just two weeks before the boy’s 18th birthday. She described her client as ‘a woman who is isolated and alone’, who was ‘frankly amazed’ when the teenager mentioned his desires to her.
Let’s do a gender switch, and see how it reads:
Kama Melly, defending, said the most serious offence took place just two weeks before the girl’s 18th birthday. She described her client as ‘a man who is isolated and alone’, who was ‘frankly amazed’ when the teenager mentioned her desires to him.
Would any defence counsel for a male sex offender ever say something along those lines? Surely not. This is simply the latest illustration of a female sex offender not being held properly accountable for her crimes, not being treated as having the moral agency we should expect of an adult woman in a position of trust over vulnerable young people.
In our general election manifesto we included a lengthy section on sexual offenders (pp 31-37). It starts with the following:
It will come as a surprise to many, but women are responsible for a substantial proportion of sexual offences, including sexual abuses of children. A website(1) concerned with female sex offenders has a bibliography(2) of over 900 academic studies, articles, and books on the subject, dating back to 1857.
People struggle to recognize women as perpetrators of sexual and non-sexual violence, in spite of the weight of evidence showing them to be frequent perpetrators of both. This is because we live in a culture which regards men as ‘actors’ and women as ‘acted upon’. The public has become conditioned to viewing men as perpetrators, and women as victims. Alison Tieman, a Canadian men’s human rights advocate, produced an insightful short video on this matter.(3)
This culture leads to inequalities. Few women are held accountable for sex offences, including those women who sexually abuse children. It’s known from a major American survey (details below) that slightly over 25% of sex offences are committed by women against men (with no male accomplices).
We would therefore expect the male/female ratio of people charged with sex offences to be a little under 3:1. In the UK, in 2013, the ratio was 146:1.
Women as well as men suffer from this failure to hold female sex offenders to account. Michele Elliott is the founder and director of Kidscape, a British charity. Her book Female Sexual Abuse of Children – The Ultimate Taboo was published in 1993.
In 1984 two American researchers, Petrovich & Templer, reported that of a sample of 89 incarcerated (male) rapists, 49 (59%) had been sexually abused as children by one or more women.(4) There is, therefore, a de facto correlation between female sex offences and male sex offending.