were referring to threats of sexual or physical violence being used to force women to commit crimes. Evidence of the widespread interweaving of domestic violence and sexual abuse in women’s criminal careers is presented throughout this report.
1.5. Some women in prison are there due to crimes committed as a result of ‘dependence’ on a man, usually pimp, partner, or a male family member. In view of the evidence presented below, the hypothesis that some women in prison are there due to crimes committed as a result of ‘dependence’ on a man, usually pimp, partner, father, or brother is deemed to have been upheld.
In discussing whether this hypothesis can be sustained, we will be looking at ‘dependency’ in terms not only of a woman being either emotionally or financially dependent upon a male, but also being ‘culturally’ dependent in terms of never having questioned some males’ assumptions that they have rights of dominance in male/female relationships.
Most of the evidence that can be adduced in support of this hypothesis is anecdotal, though there are good studies of women engaged in prostitution which indicate that even when a woman is engaged in sex work on behalf of a male pimp, she often sees herself as being an independent and strong woman earning her own money, in the only way she can. In the cases of such women, it could well be argued that class factors here are as important as gender factors, and that as a result of women’s structural poverty some women engaged in sex work under the protection (exploitation?) of a male may see themselves as having made a better contract - both economically and status-wise - than they could have made elsewhere (however strange that logic may seem to an observer). This was certainly so in the case of the women studied by Phoenix in the mid 1990s in the Midlands (Phoenix 1999).
However, emotional dependency on a male featured prominently in the stories of both Kim and Muriel, and also in the stories of 6 of the other 25 prisoners and released prisoner interviewees. Of the latter 6: one had been charged with child neglect after her child had been killed by her partner; a second had attempted to protect her boyfriend by lying and saying that she had been driving the car in which her boyfriend had driven to a robbery when, in fact, she had been elsewhere, and had as a result, been charged with robbery herself; a third had been involved in a drugs-related crime at the instigation of a male; a fourth said that she had been ‘bullied’ by a male friend into stealing; a fifth said she had felt obliged to steal enough to support her boyfriend’s alcohol and drugs needs; and the sixth said that her son had used emotional blackmail and threats of violence to get her to take drugs into a prison. All 6 had been subsequently imprisoned for relatively serious offences as a direct result of their emotional involvement with males whose criminal behaviour they had been compromised by, they had condoned, they had attempted to cover up or they had collaborated with. Additionally, one of the professionals talked at length about some women’s vulnerability to emotional blackmail in relationships:
They are vulnerable in terms of being vulnerable to others. Of being used in some way. It links to relationships really. One woman I saw on remand recently was in for handling: that was about storing stuff her ex-partner was committing offences for. What’s she doing on remand for that? What’s she doing? (A.4)
Altogether, 13 of the professionals’ said that they believed domestic violence and/or sexual abuse were one of the main ‘causes of women’s crimes and the stories of Kim and Muriel illustrate how some women’s acquiescence in male domination can lead to