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Women’s pathways into crime and incarceration: Insights from South Africa



ID: <oai:doaj.org/article:8ea6889014b04b2fb7e987d03e2a5f90>·DOI: <10.1080/23311886.2022.2044123>


This article explored the pathways of women in South Africa into criminality. Using in-depth interviews, eleven women ex-offenders and women parolees, who were incarcerated in South African correctional centres, recounted experiences from their life histories which influenced their criminal offending. Some shared life histories of the participants before incarceration were experiences of sexual and emotional abuse, and dysfunctional marriage. Also, financial motivation was identified as a pathway of some of the participants into crime and incarceration; this manifested in two criminal categories—women who were poor and committed crimes that had to do with fending for themselves and their family members, and women who were financially comfortable but engaged in white collar crimes. With the composition of black women and white women respectively, these two categories lend credence to Adler’s submission on the differential criminal involvement of females by race. Intersectionality was used to explain the interconnectedness between the participants’ criminal behaviour. Ukuthwala, a form of traditional marriage in South Africa was shown to magnify the financial lack of women, and identified as a pathway to their criminal offending.

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