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NCJ Number: 65266 Find in a Library
Title: MYTH OF THE CHIVALRY FACTOR IN FEMALE CRIME
Journal: AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES  Volume:14  Issue:1  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1979)  Pages:3-20
Author(s): J A SCUTT
Corporate Author: Australian Council of Social Service
Australia
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Council of Social Service
Haymarket NSW, 2000, Australia
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: THE OPERATION OF THE CHIVALRY FACTOR IN ACCOUNTING FOR STATISTICAL DIFFERENCES IN TREATMENT OF MALE AND FEMALE OFFENDERS IS QUESTIONED.
Abstract: IN THE AREA OF CRIME AND DETECTION, IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT WOMEN PROFIT FROM THEIR 'FEMALENESS' DUE TO THE CHIVALRY FACTOR THAT MAKES AUTHORITIES RELUCTANT TO ARREST, PROSECUTE, AND CONVICT WOMEN DESPITE THEIR GUILT. SUCH A THEORY APPEALS TO TRADITIONAL ATTITUDES TOWARD WOMEN. SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF MALE AND FEMALE OFFENDER DISPOSITIONS, HOWEVER, SUPPORTS THE VIEW THAT WOMEN DO NOT NECESSARILY ESCAPE THE CRIMINAL PROCESS. FOR SOME OFFENSES, WOMEN ARE IN FACT MORE LIKELY TO BE PUNISHED. WOMEN ARE EXPECTED TO BE PURE, AND THE FEMALE OFFENDER CONFLICTS NOT ONLY WITH THE LAW BUT ALSO WITH SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VIEWS OF WOMANHOOD. THUS, SHE MAY BE TREATED MORE HARSHLY THAN HER MALE COUNTERPART. STUDIES OF JUVENILES CAUTIONING REFERRAL TO SOCIAL AND WELFARE AGENCIES, REFERRAL TO JUVENILE COURTS, AND INSTITUTIONALIZATION SUGGEST THAT FEMALES ARE TREATED MORE LENIENTLY. HOWEVER, CLOSE EXAMINATION OF THOSE STUDIES SHOWS THAT MANY VARIABLES WERE NOT CONTROLLED; E.G. GIRLS MAY BE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF POLICE FOR LESS SERIOUS CHARGES OR MAY BE LESS BELLIGERENT TOWARDS POLICE AND GIRLS ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE REFERRED FOR OFFENDING SEXUAL MORES WHILE BOYS OFFENSES ARE MORE SEVERE. WITH ADULT MALES AND FEMALES, EVIDENCE IS IN CONFLICT. WHILE SOME BRITISH AND AMERICAN STUDIES SHOW A HIGHER LIKELIHOOD OF FEMALE THAN MALE ACQUITTAL, AUSTRALIA'S STATISTICS SHOW A TREND TOWARD NARROWING THE GAP BETWEEN THE ACQUITTAL RATES OF THE SEXES IN THE 1960'S, WITH MALE ACQUITTALS HIGHER THAN THOSE FOR FEMALES IN 1968 AND 1970. DESPITE CONTRADICTIONS, WOMEN APPEAR TO BE MORE LIKELY TO BE ACQUITTED, BUT AGAIN THIS COULD BE DUE TO LESS BELLIGERENCY IN COURT AND THUS MORE LENIENT TREATMENT FROM JUDGES. STATISTICS SHOWING A HIGHER IMPRISONMENT RATE FOR WOMEN AND A HIGHER LENIENCY OF SENTENCE, EVEN FOR SIMILAR CRIMES, LIKEWISE MAY BE MISLEADING RESEARCHERS TO BELIEVE THE CHIVALRY FACTOR IS INTERFERING. JUDGES MAY BE DETERMINING THAT THE WOMEN ARE NEEDED AT HOME AS MOTHERS. THE OFFENSES OF FEMALES MIGHT BE LESS SERIOUS WITH HARM DIRECTED NOT AT THE PUBLIC BUT AT HERSELF (FEMALES ARE ARRESTED FOR OFFENSES RELATED TO ALCOHOL AND NONVIOLENT SEX ACTIVITIES A GREAT DEAL OF THE TIME) OR JUDGES MIGHT BE MORE LIKELY TO CONSIDER THEM AS UNSTABLE BECAUSE THEY ARE STEPPING OUT OF TRADITIONAL ROLES. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED.
Index Term(s): Female juvenile delinquents; Female offenders; Judicial discretion; Male offenders; Police discretion; Sentencing disparity; Sex discrimination
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65266

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