Violent Sisters: Female Aggression Behind Closed Doors is an investigation into females who harm and kill. It looks at how, where and why women commit acts of violence – and against whom. It offers a unique perspective by arguing that women often do violence differently, and that as perpetrators they are also treated differently from their male counterparts. In Violent Sisters I uncover how women do violence mostly in hidden and private settings, and because of that we do not understand it well. But there’s another dimension too – that we collectively deny the power of female aggression. Male violence is better understood and I don’t wish to deny it. I want to investigate the power structures that sit alongside patriarchy and sometimes overlap with it.
Violent Sisters draws on different geographical locations and uses powerful cases, historical context, and compelling interviews with survivors, bereaved families, activists, academics and key figures in the criminal justice system. It deploys investigative journalism techniques ranging from data analysis, to Freedom Of Information Requests (FOIs), to content analysis of media reporting to lift a lid on where and how women commit acts of violence. It will offer the reader typologies to explain the development of violent women through their life span and the distinct motivations for female violence – including the arguments around self-defence and psychosis, and how women who are convicted can face disproportionate sentences for their acts.
This book is timely, due to the growing interest in women as perpetrators of violence and because it fills an important gap in our understanding of different types of violence, mostly commonly practiced by women. This book brings together 25 years of reporting on violence practised by and against women, ranging from the Rwandan genocide, honour based violence, group violence and disability hate crime. Some chapters will take a global approach, including those on honour violence, cyber violence, women in the military and in terrorism and violence in some group settings, whilst others will focus closely on the UK situation, drawing deeply on my reporting on issues such as violence against disabled people.
The book will provide a historical account of women and violence as well as an overview of existing research and data. It will interrogate the idea that women are far less likely than men to commit violent crimes, although the recording of female violence has increased across the world. The main areas the book will cover are: violence against babies and children, bullying and other forms of indirect aggression, violence against disabled and older people, as well as healthcare killers and abusers in institutional settings including care homes, hospitals and mental health wards, domestic abuse (both heterosexual and same sex) and rising rates of female cyber violence, as well as the poorly understood role of women in honour killing, a crime that has been separated off from other forms of domestic abuse. The book links all forms of female violence together – in the form of a life-course approach - to show that women’s aggression, whilst often hidden and obscured, is more common than thought.
Katharine Quarmby is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist with extensive knowledge of writing and editing across multiple formats. She recently launched a new investigative journalism unit at the human rights organisation Liberty, following working as engagement lead at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, after having been full-time production and digital editor till September 2018. She was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics (2015-2017), was a contributing writer for Mosaic Science magazine and has worked as a Britain correspondent at the Economist,...
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