Sexual violence

The literature on sexual violence by women is rather limited. Research has demonstrated that women form only a small proportion of the total sex offender population (between 4-5%; Cortoni, Hanson, & Coache, 2010Logan, 2008). The question, however is whether official figures may underestimate the true prevalence rate. Sexual abuse by a woman is generally less visible, for example, occurring within the context of a nurturing role, or as a teacher who has a sexual relationship with a student.

In a large international meta-analysis into recidivism of female sexual offenders (N = 2490), Cortoni and colleagues (2010) found that only 1 to 3% of the women were re-convicted of a sexual offense, 4 to 8% for a non-sexual violent crime, and 19 to 24% for an offense in general. The majority of female sexual offenders commit sexual assaults against young people. Female sexual offenders compared to male sexual offenders are more likely to be in a caretaking position and less likely to abuse strangers. Furthermore, it is known that when women commit sexual offenses this occurs relatively often with a male accomplice.