Women and violent crimes in Nigeria: a theoretical, historical and contemporary overview
Despite the continuous dominance of males in crime statistics as offenders and prisoners, there is an apparent increase in women’s involvement in violent crimes in Nigeria. However, the limited attention paid to this trend appears to be impeding serious understanding of the correlates of women’s increasing involvement in violence, thereby almost foreclosing efforts at engendering effective interventions. Although, more arrests of women offenders have been made, and more female prisons built, yet, the study of crime and the justice process in Nigeria is still shaped by male experiences. This article, therefore, examines cases of reported female violence in Nigeria to glean out the peculiarities of gender as well as the complex interplay of cultural, behavioural, and social variables in explaining women and violence in contemporary Nigeria. A review of literature on the historical development of female criminality and factors attributed to the patterns and typologies of crimes women participated in from the traditional to modern Nigerian society are made. In addition, a review of major theories explaining the rise in female criminality is done. While the gradual but conscious development of women’s involvement in violent crimes in Nigeria is noted, the article argues that no singular cause, explanation or theory accounts for the rise in women’s violence. The article concludes by stating the need for more empirical studies focusing on women and violent crimes in Nigeria, to engender more understanding of female violence. Also, gender-sensitive interventions are suggested for effective control of female-perpetrated violent crimes in Nigeria.