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Women, criminality and multifocal empowerment responses: some prospects for Botswana

Tirelo Modie-Moroka
Marie-Antoinette Sossou


Although the overall agenda of the women's movement is committed to recognizing the needs and aspirations of women and ending gender-based inequality, issues concerning women and crime have always been ignored. this paper documents the situation of women in prison in Botswana. although the proportion of prisoners who are women is relatively small, women constitute a growing subset of the entire prison population whose needs are different from those of men. whereas factors that draw women to criminal activities may not differ markedly for men and women, women's crime is a reaction to the special circumstances of their prolonged victimization and dispossession. the paper explores how prisons have historically served to enforce and reinforce women's traditional roles and to foster dependency and passivity. The paper combines empirical evidence collected through qualitative research conducted in six female prisons in Botswana with feminist and empowerment models used to highlight the personal experiences and psychosocial problems of women in prison. we argue for the development of gender-appropriate and gender-sensitive social services in education, economic and personal empowerment, legal aid, medical and counselling, among others, in order to help women prisoners take control of their lives.

Journal of Social Development in Africa Vol 16 No 2 2001, pp. 5-30

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1726-3700
print ISSN: 1012-1080