Until recently I thought men and women committed crimes in more or less equal numbers. This isn’t the case. The Office of National Statistics publishes prison population figures every week and I downloaded the data for 11th February 2022. The difference between the sexes is substantial. In the last week, the number of prisoners in the male estate was 76,540. Can you guess how many prisoners were in the female estate?
In the same week, there were just 3,225 prisoners in the female prison estate. Women account for only 4% of all prisoners in the UK. Why is there such a huge gulf between the sexes where crime is concerned? Wikipedia has lots of theories ranging from social and cultural factors, to crimes going unreported to biological differences.
There are also quite glaring differences in the sex of victims of some crimes. 9 out 10 ten rape victims are women and 84% of all sexual offences are committed against women. We need to be aware of the statistics if we want to solve the problem, especially when a woman in the UK can be murdered by a police officer while walking home from a friend’s house.
According to Refuge, a woman and children’s charity against domestic violence, two women are killed every week in England and Wales by their current or former partner; one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. These are shocking numbers.
This government report on Tackling violence against women and girls says education is one promising intervention that has been shown to have a positive impact on tackling some of the root causes. It helps children understand what healthy relationships, behaviours, and attitudes are and includes concepts of consent, exploitation, grooming, and harassment. The same government report also found a link between violent pornography and violent attitudes towards women and girls. In the news this week is the UK government draft online safety bill which will require pornography sites to check the age of users via a credit card or passport. I support this change. The new bill will also require tech companies to remove criminal content as a priority.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries today announced extra priority illegal offences to be written on the face of the bill include revenge porn, hate crime, fraud, the sale of illegal drugs or weapons, the promotion or facilitation of suicide, people smuggling and sexual exploitation. Terrorism and child sexual abuse are already included.
Previously the firms would have been forced to take such content down after it had been reported to them by users but now they must be proactive and prevent people being exposed in the first place.
It will clamp down on pimps and human traffickers, extremist groups encouraging violence and racial hate against minorities, suicide chatrooms and the spread of private sexual images of women without their consent.
This all sounds positive to me. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where women and girls can walk home alone at night without constantly looking over their shoulders.