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2 thoughts on “For New Users”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this excellent resource. I have a question which I hope you won’t mind me sending through.

    I was discussing this:

    with some feminists in the context of female privilege, and the general ineffectiveness of the patriarchy in actually providing any benefits at all to men.

    The feminists claimed that reason for the gender sentencing disparity was solely because women with children were given more lenient treatment, and that women without children were treated comparably to men. Thus it wasn’t an example of female privilege because women had to have at least one child in order to benefit from it.

    On the face of it this reasoning seems implausible, but I haven’t found any figures which analyse the gap in this context. Do you have any that you could share to quantify the extent to which children cause the gender gap?


    1. Thanks for your enquiry (which I interpret in the context of the UK). So your feminists believe that only women have children?

      Hard data on the matter was published by the Ministry of Justice in October 2015, in Female Offenders and Child Dependants ( This tells us the following, based on 2012 data,
      • Between 24% and 31% of all female offenders were estimated to have one or more child dependants.
      • Among the different disposal types, women receiving immediate custody were significantly less likely to have child dependants (between 13% and 19%).

      Reasonably assuming there is no correlation between having a child and the severity of a woman’s offence, we may conclude from these data that having childcare responsibilities reduces a woman’s likelihood of being sent to prison to about 60% of what it would have been otherwise (ratio of central estimates: 16%/27.5% ~ 0.6).

      However, this applies to only one-quarter to one-third of female offenders. Consequently, when averaged over all female offenders this ‘motherhood advantage’ is worth only about a 10% reduction in imprisonment probability.[Factor on imprisonment probability is: (1 – 0.275) x 1 + 0.275 x 0.6 ~ 0.9].

      This compares with my estimates of unfairness against men as regards prison sentencing of a factor of 6 (based on all offences) or a factor of 3.5 (based on indictable offences only). The latter is, perhaps, more representative, though it excludes bias operating at the level of arrest, prosecution and conviction which are probably also substantial.

      Note that taking consideration of child care duties into account in deciding sentencing is formally authorised within the advice of the Equal Treatment Bench Book – the guidance given to judges on equality issues ( So this is an accepted part of our judicial process, however one may personally view it.

      Personally I regard the Equal Treatment Bench Book as enshrined institutionalised sexism. It is not that I object to childcare responsibilities being taken into account in sentencing. It is that only women are permitted such consideration. The Equal Treatment Bench Book is a good example of the double-speak which abounds in all prevailing gender discussions. For example, it rightly cautions against…

      “common stereotypical assumptions often applied to all women and men….(such as that) women are primary carers of children”

      But only a little later we read,

      “Sentencers must be made aware of the differential impact sentencing decisions have on women and men including caring responsibilities for children or elders…..The Prison Service Gender Specific Standards provide guidance on the various stages of custody and consider the needs of different women – such as…..women with children.”

      So, having been warned against falling victim to stereotyping – specifically in the context of childcare – the Bench Book enshrines sentencing alleviations based on childcare as a consideration for women only – actually citing differential impact on men and women. Mind blowing, isn’t it?

      The public are unaware of the extent to which anti-male sexism is now part of our de facto law. There is a powerful sentiment driving such sexist policies in punishment, which is now universally adopted in parliament, in all parts of the criminal justice process and, of course, in myriad women’s lobby groups. This explicitly sexist position is well represented by The Corston Report which I have excoriated here:

      It was not always thus. Go back to, say, the Edwardian era or before and you will find judges equally cautious in sentencing fathers to prison. The reason was that, in those days, before the welfare state, when fathers were the sole breadwinner for their families, sentencing a father to prison was to sentence the whole family to penury. Thus, the present situation, in which only woman receive consideration in respect of childcare is another aspect of fathers being no longer recognised as significant in family life. It is a further symptom of male disadvantage which is far more pervasive than the justice system.

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