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When She Was Bad: How Women Get Away with Murder

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 13 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:470
  1. Raj Persaud, consultant psychiatrist
  1. Maudsley Hospital, London

    Patricia Pearson

    Virago Press, £9.99, pp304

    ISBN 1 860494889

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    North American data show that between the 1960s and 1990s arrests of women for aggravated assault trebled, arrests for robbery quadrupled, and the homicide rate increased by a third. Arrests of women for violent crime grew at more than twice the rate of those for men.

    With figures like these, Patricia Pearson attempts to challenge the prevailing belief that female violence is such an extreme departure from the feminine traits of gentleness and compassion that mental illness must be invoked to explain it. Until recently, only 8% …

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