Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Gender differences have been much in the news lately. It's a topic that exerts a powerful attraction, beguiling scientists and lay people alike. Are men and women really so dissimilar that they may as well come from different planets? And where there are differences, what are the causes? Everyone, it seems, has a view. Gender differences come to a head in our prison population, where self-harm is a particularly serious issue for women: they make up 5% of the prison population, but account for 50% of all self-harm incidents

Daniel Freeman writes in the Guardian (13/12/13): "Being judged on one's appearance and the degree to which one conforms to a largely unattainable physical "ideal", shouldering the burden of responsibility for family, home and career, growing up in a society that routinely valorises masculinity while belittling femininity, and having to run the gauntlet of everyday sexism – all of these factors are likely to help lower women's self-esteem, increase their level of stress and leave them vulnerable to mental health problems. And that's without taking account of the effects of sexual abuse, a trauma that's frequently implicated in later psychological illness and one that as many as one in twenty girls are estimated to have suffered."

Alan Travis writes in the Guardian (14/12/2013 p.24): "Women's prisons in England and Wales are undergoing an "epidemic of self-mutilation", with one in four female prisoners having self-harmed, according to a new Oxford University study. The results of the largest ever study of self-harm in prisons, published by the medical journal The Lancet, also reveal women prisoners are four times more likely to self-harm than their male counterparts. The research by Seena Fazel and Keith Hawton examined nearly 140,000 incidents of self-harm, involving 26,510 people, between 2004 and 2009."

See also:

Self-harm 'four times more likely' in female prisoners (BBC News online, 16/12/2013)

Jails struggle to stop women from self-harming (The Times, 16/12/2013, p.2)

One in four female inmates self-harms (The Independent, 16/12/2013, p.20)

A quarter of female prisoners are self-harming: Report shows women are more likely than men to hurt themselves (Mail Online, 16/12/2013, Emma Thomas)

UK study reveals that one in four female prisoners self-harm (The Journal (Ireland), 16/12/2013)

Women prisoners more likely to self-harm (Nursing Times, 16/12/2013, via Press Association)

Radio: Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 16/12/2013, 10:24am: "Women's prisons in England and Wales are undergoing an "epidemic of self-mutilation", with one in four female prisoners having self-harmed, according to a new Oxford University study. The results of the largest ever study of self-harm in prisons also reveal women prisoners are four times more likely to self-harm than their male counterparts. Senior author Dr Seena Fazel, Wellcome Trust fellow and psychiatrist at Oxford University, is interviewed on the programme." [c.23:00-31:18 on the iPlayer clock]

Radio: Nick Piercey, BBC Radio Oxford 16/12/2013, 04:01pm

Women in jail more likely to self-harm; Oxford Mail, p.7, 17/12/2013