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Female Criminality in India

July 28, 2020   •   Snehal Asthana


Women are thought to be the preservers of norms but for a decade, many women are involved in a violation of laws and committing crimes across the world. India is no exception to this. Female criminality in India has also increased considerably. There could be several factors involved for such an increase, some of which would be discussed briefly hereinafter. The evolving role, move-in occupation, and status, the idea of women liberation, financial freedom, and political autonomy opens the passage for ladies to participate in different activities, and thus the exposure to crimes is more than in past.[1] The nature of crimes committed by women is not only petty crimes and they are involved in a lot of non-traditional and serious crimes as well, which also would be discussed in this article. The crimes amongst women have increased with the changing times but the law has still remained the same as it was in the olden days. Thus, the law also needs to be made fewer women protective and more gender-neutral.


A lot of economic, political, social, biological, and psychological factors affect women's criminality. A few of them are briefly explained as under-

  1. Biological Factors- Whether biological factors play any role in facilitating crimes is still debatable but bio-chemical researchers suggest that biological factors such as hormonal imbalances have an adverse effect on women's criminality. In the pregnancy and menopausal stage, emotional changes of moods, anomalous craving and impulses, and impermanent hindrance of awareness are some of the biological and psychological factors that point toward criminal causation.[2]
  2. Industrialization And Modernization- As a result of industrialization and modernization, old age social control mechanisms have ceased to have force.[3] It is assumed that the issue of female criminality exudes from the fast changes of the society from past convention to innovation. The contentions made between social objectives and institutional methods accessible to accomplish them lead to aggression bringing about aberrance among women.
  3. Personal Factors- Ill-treatment of women by their spouses, in-laws, or other relatives can lead to the women resorting to criminal activities. Some of the personal factors that can contribute to the crimes committed by the women are- lack of the woman in love and family life, husband engaged in activities like drinking, gambling, etc.
  4. Poverty- Poverty is a very big factor that accounts for female criminality especially in India. The relevancy of poverty to female criminality is sufficiently highlighted through certain judicial decisions such as- re Maragatham[4] and Shreerangyee v. State of Madras.[5]
  5. Psychological Factors- Psychologists treat crime as a behavior learned by the criminal in the course of his contract with different persons. Upsetting circumstances, maladjustments, discordant conjugal relations, strife inclined associations with spouses and parents in law, and maladjustments in interpersonal relationships within the family are causes found to be answerable for female criminality.[6]
  6. Social Factors- Social factors are extremely important factors that promote and encourage female criminality in India. Lack of education, rivalry, strife, social disorder portability, conjugal variables, terrible neighborhood, and ill-conceived parenthood are the different factors because of which criminality among women is expanding.
  7. Under-Age Employment and Bad Working Conditions- The lack of employment may be a worrisome factor for adult males but under age employment and bad working conditions are some of the major economic factors facilitating crimes amongst women.[7]
  8. Women’s Emancipation- Women did not have access to resources as men in the past. Be that as it may, as women are freed and have started infiltrating the workforce or the social network where she was not previously permitted she will have opportunities to act criminal similarly that a male would be having.


Traditionally, the crimes committed by women were limited to petty crimes and crimes such as shoplifting, prostitution, etc. Now, women are engaged in all kinds of crimes such as-

  • Adultery
  • Blackmailing
  • Drugs Trafficking
  • Forgery
  • Kidnapping
  • Marital Crimes
  • Murder
  • Pickpocketing
  • Smuggling
  • Terrorism
  • Theft

These are only some examples of the crimes committed by women in recent times. Now their involvement in smuggling, white-collar crimes and even terrorism has come to stay as a big poser.[8]


The following are some of the steps and measures that can be useful for the prevention of female criminality in India-

  • Amendment of laws
  • Community-Based Prevention Programs
  • Crime Prevention Institutions at Community Level
  • Interdisciplinary research in the field of female criminality.
  • Keeping a check on gender discrimination in the families, school and workplaces
  • Learning Programs for Female Offenders and Rehabilitation
  • Reformation of the criminal justice system
  • Rehabilitation and Reintegration
  • Reintegration of Women Offenders
  • Responsible Media
  • Sex Education
  • Sharing of social and domestic roles by men and women equally instead of demarcating the same.

An imperative to make effective procedures towards the consideration, treatment, and restoration of female offenders is incredible and for this researches and publications identified with female wrongdoing ought to be promptly received by the strategy creators, the scholastic circle, and the public throughout the world. Women are valuable for humanity, for country building and for the perpetuation of civilization and so every individual must contribute to their development and prosperity by expelling all the hindrances in the way of their advancement.


Crime and criminal both have lived in society since time immemorial. However, until recently the commission of those crimes was limited to only men. In traditional society, female criminality was seen as a unique matter to society. The scenario has changed for a few decades. The rising female criminality nowadays is viewed by many as the reaction, the retaliation, the ultimate method of self-preservation. The impact of female criminality can be seen on the individual, on the family, and on the society at large. Hence, more research needs to be done on this topic and laws should also be amended accordingly.

This article is authored by Nandini Menon, a 3rd-year student pursuing a 5-year law course [BSW LLB (Hons.)] at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU).

Disclaimer: The article is an original submission of the Author. Niti Manthan does not hold any liability arising out of this article. Kindly refer to our terms of use or write to us in case of any concerns.

[1] Rani Bilmoria, 'The Pattern And Nature Of Female Criminality In India' [1981] Indian Journal of Social Work.

[2] Otto Pollak, The Criminality Of Women (Greenwood Press 1978).

[3] Prof. N V Paranjape, Criminology And Penology (2006).

[4] AIR [1968] Mad 498.

[5] [1973] 1 MLJ 205.

[6] Ram Ahuja, Female Offenders In India (Meenakshi Prakashan 1969).

[7] J L Gillin, Criminology And Penology (2005).

[8] Giriraj Shah, Crime Against Women And Police (Anmol Publications 2000).

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