Why gender-specific?

The increasing number of women involved in the Criminal Justice System over the past 10 years has led to a discovery of the lack of services geared towards this population and thus has prompted several professionals to scrutinise their practices in terms of gender.

Women continue to make up the minority in the Criminal Justice System and therefore, often go unaccounted for. However, this can mean that women receive the same services that men do.

Equality does not mean treating everyone the same. The new gender equality duty demands that individuals are treated according to need and recognises that women and men have different needs. Male and female offenders have different needs and therefore require a different approach. This different approach results in a gender-specific approach to female offenders.

In order to better understand female offenders and to take an effective approach we must remember to ask:

  • Who are these women?
  • What are the women’s needs?
  • What do the women say?

In answering these questions, we can ensure that our approach is taking on three fundamental elements to a gender-specific approach: woman-centred, needs-responsive, holistic and user-led.