Women remain a special group in the society. Despite their high populations they are marginalized and have few legislative positions in society. Empowering women will reduce discrimination rates in the world. Issues that affect women participating in or those affected by the criminal justice vary with race or state. Women of color face greater discrimination from the system, which seems to be using its machinery to enforce inequalities. (www.amnestyusa.org).
The number of women victimized, offenders and criminal justice practitioners is increasing by the day. As the society develops more challenges are emerging. Women, as a marginalized part of society are prone to sex crimes. Women and girl trafficking has risen as illegal organization operates to use them for forced prostitution. Corrupt officials at varying levels allow such activities. Women in developing countries are at higher risks due to economic constraints. Victims of prostitution in foreign countries are deported to their mother countries where they are treated with discrimination making them more susceptible to such traffickers again. In the family setup women are prone to domestic violence that could range from rape, sexual assault or trafficking.
Economic distress is a leading factor for women criminality. Drugs and alcohol abuse also lead them to commit crimes. Poverty leads to human trafficking where women are likely to be abused physically and sexually. 70% of violence against women is either domestic or committed by an acquaintance compared with 41% of crimes against men. (www.cwu.org). Without effective programs in the society where offenders are absorbed crime rates will remain on the rise. Community based care programs will be appropriate to this respect. Women practitioners in the criminal justice system face gender bias. They tend to face challenges that hinder their development in their career. Gender based discrimination affect their recruitment as well as promotion. Fewer women are in the system hence inefficiencies in addressing women’s issues. In 2004 for instance only 8.3% of women were in the Judiciary, high court judge and other positions. (www.cwu.org). Affirmative action can work to ensure a positive more in reducing the disparities.
Cultural values for instance the view that family is private and should be protected or honored sees some women suffer in the hands of cruel husbands. Some victims do not trust the criminal justice system to effectively address their problem and consequently they do not consult them. Victimized women suffer in foreign countries where communication barriers may result to communication barriers. Again they may not be conversant with the legal systems of the foreign nations.
The criminal justice system is ineffective when dealing with women caught in forced prostitution. They face harsh treatment than their abusers. Harsh punishment should be enforced so that justice prevails. The system is biased against women. Few women report sexual assaults and even for those who report the prosecution and conviction rates are low. The offenders do not seem to reform and re-victimization occurs frequently. The procedures taken in courts tend to demean women and thus the increased dropped cases. Some women fail to report assaults for fear of publicity. They may fail to report to protect their public image in fear that the public will know they were assaulted.
Fear of the offender is also a cause of under prosecution of sexual assault cases. The offender may threaten the victim that he would cause harm in case he is reported.
(Jan J, 2001) Some women fear that they might be blamed or accused that they were responsible for their sexual assaults. Others fail to report such cases for fear that those they care about for instance family members will find out about their sexual assaults. (www.justicewomen.com). The trial process where the offender is in the same room with the victim causes some to drop the charges as it is traumatizing.
Criminal justice system must be comprehensive to be effective. Proper follow up, probation monitoring and victim support must be incorporated in the system. Some officers are biased against women resulting to inefficiencies. (Wendy M, 1997) Others are reported to respond untimely to calls of distress from victimized women. Again more protection seems to be given to the criminals rather than the victims. These move makes the criminals keep pursuing their heinous acts. On the other hand the victims (women) live in despair as the system fails to protect them. Their bold move of rising beyond shame associated with the knowledge that people are aware of what happened to them is made in vain.
There are approximately 138,000 women in prisons in the USA, thrice the number of women incarcerated in 1985. (www.amnestyusa.org). Women form a small proportion of the population compared to men. They face challenges in the prisons, which are mostly programmed and managed to serve males. Programs favoring men tend to be given priority. Women play a vital role in the family setup as most women take care of their children. Most of the women in prisons are detached from their families as they are held in prisons in different cities. The system in place is biased and it fails to provide gender specific services. They are at times sexually assaulted by staff members in the system that is meant to protect and reform them. Appropriate skills on parenting, drug abuse and sexual exploitation that mostly affect women are not addressed. Pregnant women in prison need special attention to protect their unborn children. (www.amnestyusa.org).
Woman’s Justice Center. 2000. Mapping the Obstacles to Criminal Justice for Women. Retrieved on 25th January 2008 from http://www.justicewomen.com/handbook/part1_intro.html
Amnesty International. Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody. Retrieved on 25th January 2008 from http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=D0F5C2222D1AABEA8025690000692FC4
Pauline Granstan. Facts & Figures on gender discrimination. Retrieved on 25th January 2008 from http://www.cwu.org/uploads/documents/RD05-05-121%20UPDATED%20FACTS%20%20FIGURES%20ON%20GENDER%20DISCRIMINATION.DOC
Jordan Jan. 2001. Worlds Apart? Women, Rape and the Police Reporting Process. British Journal of Criminology vol. 41, no 4.p 679-706.
Murphy Wendy.1997. Gender Bias in the Criminal Justice System. Harvard Women’s Law Journal, vol. 20: p 14-26.