Women as Offenders – The Social and Legal Circumstances of Women who commit Crimes: A Case Study of Selected Prisons in Malawi

Twea, Stella (2004) Women as Offenders – The Social and Legal Circumstances of Women who commit Crimes: A Case Study of Selected Prisons in Malawi. Masters thesis, University of Zimbabwe.

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Abstract

This study was conducted in three major prisons in Malawi (Zomba, Maula and Chichiri) between October 2003 and February 2004. It focused on establishing the social and legal circumstances that have shaped the condition and position of the female offender. To do this it was necessary to understand and probe the system of justice delivery and its accessibility to women who commit crimes. The research revealed that before women are confronted with the law, they try to seek redress to their problems by consulting other informal structures of justice delivery such as marriage counsellors and chiefs. This aspect and the testimonies of women themselves brought to light a number of social impediments that determine the status quo for women offenders and the trigger factors in the commission of crime. The research has brought to light a number of socio-legal problems that women who have committed crime face apart from the practical problems that they have in prisons. Poverty, gender, socio-cultural beliefs, illiteracy and marriage relationships are pertinent issues in the woman offender’s story. Legally, the study has established that there are many legal bottlenecks at different points of the criminal justice delivery system and these affect women disproportionately more than men. It is thus imperative that a gender differentiated approach should be used in processing women when they commit crime. The practical problems arising from keeping women as offenders are influenced by the inherent structural problems that prisons have, the physical needs of women stemming from their sex and gender and the failure of the prison system to address the problems in a gender sensitive manner. There are a number of important recommendations that different stakeholders made to improve the way women offenders are maintained in prison and to make justice more effective for women. These recommendations and the research recommendations are aimed at ensuring that human rights standards embedded in the Constitution of Malawi and in international human rights instruments are observed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JX International law
Divisions: Africana
Depositing User: Geoffrey Obatsa
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 07:02
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 07:02
URI: http://thesisbank.jhia.ac.ke/id/eprint/2905

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