Nature of female crime in India

Statistically speaking, crime amongst females is not a significant problem in India. Of the total crimes committed in our country in 1998, about 5.4 per cent are committed by females (Crime in India, 1998: 271).

While between 1971 and 1980, the quinquennial average of female crime was 29,300 (Surat Mishra and Arora, 1982), between 1981 and 1990, it was 64,680. In 1998, of 26.57 lakh persons arrested for crimes under the Indian Penal Code in the country, 1.43 lakh (or 5.4%) were females (ibid: 271).

It is true that there has been increase in female criminality from 1971 onwards. From 1.7 per cent in 1971, female crimes under the IPC increased to 1.9 per cent in 1978, 3.1 per cent in 1990, 3.5 per cent in 1992, and 5.4 per cent in 1998; but this increase is not so high when compared to the increase in male criminality. While incidence of crime under the


IPC among males increased by 9.44 per cent during the period from 1953 to 1963, by 63.49 per cent during 1963 to 1973, by 25.2 per cent during 1973 to 1983, by 20.7 per cent during 1983 to 1993, and by 9.2 per cent during the period from 1993 to 1998, the IPC crime among females increased by 48.5 per cent from 1983 to 1993 and by 50.4 per cent from 1993 to 1998 (ibid., 16; 1993: 153). Thus, statistically, female criminality is not yet a serious social problem for our society.

There are more female crimes in America, England, France, Canada, Japan, Thailand, etc. in comparison to India. For example, against nine female crimes per one lakh of population in India, there are 1,154 crimes in America, 561 in West Germany, 316 in Thailand, 138 in France, and 133 in Japan.

The general crime rate (i.e., males and females together) per one lakh of population in 1998 in different countries was: India: 636, Canada: 8,452, England: 10,403, America: 5,897, Japan: 1,459, France: 6,095, Germany: 7,868 and Austria: 5,940 (Crime in India, 1998: 23)]. Sociologically, however, female crime in India may be considered a crucial problem because of its impact on the upbringing of children, and the overall fabric of society.

The difference in the rate of male and female crime is basically the result of the difference in their respective roles. The basic role of wage-earning by men is performed outside the home for which they have to compete with others.


In the process of competition, sometimes when they are not able to achieve their goal through legitimate means, they use illegitimate means.

On the other hand, the basic role of a householder is performed by women within the four walls of home for which they have not to compete with anybody and are not forced to use anti-social means for achieving their goal.

Moreover, compared to men, women are more god-fearing, moral and tolerant. They are also subject to greater social restrictions. Further, some crimes require masculine skills and techniques or active independence on the part of the offender and the use or threat of violence (e.g., auto-thefts, chain-snatching, etc.).

Women’s participation in such crimes is very low. Lastly, the police and the courts take a more sympathetic attitude towards female offenders.


In short, the important factors of difference in rate of male and female crime may be described as: (i) differential sex role expectations, (ii) sex differences in socialisation Patterns and application of social control, (iii) differential opportunities to engage in crime, (iv) differential access to criminal subcultures and careers, and (v) sex differences built into crime categories (see, Dale Hoffman Bustamente, “The Nature of Female Criminality”, in Issues in Criminology, Fall 1973: 117-36).