[Press and Publications] Latest Security Journal: Women and Security - International Perspectives

June 2001

No 63

  • Resettlement of Women Prisoners Ignores Abusive Home Environments
  • Cyberaggression a Growing Threat to Women
  • Women Taxi Drivers Frequently Harassed
  • The latest issue of the Security Journal edited by staff at the internationally renowned Scarman Centre at the University of Leicester includes striking new findings from research in England and Wales; Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

    Dr Rosemary Barberet, Lecturer in Criminal Justice at the University of Leicester and Professor Bonnie Fisher of the University of Cincinnati, co-editors of the special issue on 'Women and Security: International Perspectives', state: "So often public and private strategies to make people safer do not take women's special security needs into account. This issue highlights the overlap among women of threats to security in the home, workplace, in institutions, in public life and in cyberspace and suggests ways the security industry might be more responsive to the particular security needs of women."

    Wilkinson, Morris and Woodrow remind us of the presence of abuse and violence in the lives of women offenders. Often we assume that women offenders come from peaceful home lives; this assumption has resulted in policy efforts that have focused on maintaining ties between women in prison and their families. Draft National Standards on resettlement have been issued recently. The authors warn that given the numbers of women in prison who have experienced abuse at home, resettlement policy must have security as a priority, and women must be given the ability to manage their security upon release:

    "Few women prisoners pose a risk to the community, but it is clear... that such communities may pose a risk to women. Our view is that we need to recognize that women's ability to manage their own security on release is seriously curtailed: when they are released to communities in which they were victimized; when they are relocated within families which were the site of their abuse; when they are unable to exercise choices about where they will live; and when they are denied the financial autonomy so crucial to breaking free of an enforced dependence."

    Westmarland and Anderson describe the situations that female taxi drivers face on a daily basis:

    "A woman gets into a car with a strange man (dangerous?), he's very drunk and may be on drugs (reckless?), she doesn't know where she's going (mad?), it's three o'clock in the morning (stupid?) and she's got a hundred pounds in her pocket (irresponsible)."

    Their research highlights that while female taxi drivers face the same security concerns as male drivers, they additionally face the added risk of victimization directed against women. In particular, female taxi drivers are significantly more likely to be sexually harassed and to consider leaving their jobs due to violence at work. A gendered security scheme for female taxi drivers thus would need to address sexual harassment as well as the global effect of female taxi driver victimization on job satisfaction.

    Cyberaggression is a new phenomenon with particularly grave consequences for women, who are already more likely than men to be stalked or harassed through other means. Cyberaggression refers to insults, threats, harassment and stalking that are perpetrated on the Internet using various modes of transmission such as electronic mail, chat rooms, news groups, mail exploders and the World Wide Web (Tjaden, 2000). Miceli, Santana and Fisher note that "a handful of nations have developed anti-cyberaggression legislation, yet these legal efforts have not deterred those who harass and stalk women on line, in part because jurisdictional issues compromise the effectiveness of this legislation."

    Other articles in this special issue deal with university campus victimisation, women's responses to fear of crime and the management of security in bail hostels for women.


    Dr Rosemary Barberet can be contacted on 44 (0) 116 252 5767, fax 44 (0)116 252 5766, email rb78@le.ac.uk. The publisher can be contacted at info@perpetuitypress.co.uk

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