Women in Organized Crime

  • Citation: Selmini, Rossella. “Women in Organized Crime.” Crime and Justice 49 (2020).
    • Topics:
    • Conflict and Security
    • Keywords:
    • women
    • organized criminal activities
    • illegal transnational markets
    • victims
    • masculinity
    • violence

The involvement of women in organized criminal activities such as street gangs, mafias, and illegal transnational markets, including human trafficking, human smuggling, and drug trafficking, is an important but understudied subject. Gendered studies and feminist theories can improve current knowledge and provide important new insights. They can enhance understanding of women’s roles, behavior, motivations, and life stories in all forms of organized crime and challenge traditional and established ideas about victims, perpetrators, violence, and agency. Women, in all those settings, occupy both passive, subordinate roles and more active, powerful ones. However, ideas that greater emancipation, labor force participation, and formal equality of women in our time have fundamentally affected women’s involvement in organized crime have not been validated. Borders between victims and perpetrators are often blurred. More research is needed on the effects of globalization and technological change, on the salience of conceptions of masculinity in relation to organized crime, and on conceptualization of violence in women’s personal lives and criminal actions.

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