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Sentencing of male and female child sex offenders : Australian study

journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2009, 00:00 authored by Rebecca Deering, David MellorDavid Mellor
Research suggests that, in line with the chivalry hypothesis of female offending, a range of mitigatory factors such as mental health problems, substance abuse, and personal experiences of abuse are brought into play when women who offend against children are brought to trial. This is reflected in sentencing comments made by judges and in the sanctions imposed on the offenders, and as a result female offenders are treated differently to male offenders. The current study investigated this in an Australian context. Seven cases of female-perpetrated child sexual abuse were identified over a 6-year period through the Austlii database. Seven cases of male-perpetrated child sex abuse matched as far as possible to these were identified. Court transcripts were then located, and sentencing comments and sanctions imposed were analysed. All offenders were sentenced to imprisonment, but in general the women were more likely than the men to receive less jail time and lower non-parole periods because their personal backgrounds or situation at the time of the offending (i.e., difficulties with intimate relationship, male dependence issues, depression, loneliness and anger) were perceived as worthy of sympathy, and they were considered as likely to be rehabilitated. Further investigations are needed to support these findings.

History

Journal

Psychiatry, psychology and law

Volume

16

Issue

3

Pagination

394 - 412

Publisher

Australian Academic Press

Location

Melbourne, Vic.

ISSN

1321-8719

eISSN

1934-1687

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2009, Australian Accademic Press