Female perpetrators - ordinary and extra-ordinary women

A.L. Smeulers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Only a very small percentage of the perpetrators convicted by international criminal courts and tribunals are women. This raises the question as to whether women are less evil than men. Within literature it is generally assumed that the genocide in Rwanda was unprecedented in relation to the role played by women and that it is the first and only period of mass violence in which many women were involved. This explorative study however shows that women have played a much larger role than we have generally assumed so far and that women can be just as evil as men – although it indeed seems true that generally far less women than men are involved in mass atrocities. There is a clear gender bias in the portrayal of female perpetrators as sadists, natural or lacking agency, but it can be questioned whether female perpetrators are less ordinary than male perpetrators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207
Number of pages253
JournalInternational Criminal Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • international crimes
  • international criminal law
  • perpetrators
  • Women


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