Crimes involving women have come into focus in Kerala with the surfacing of scams and fraudulent financial deals. One of the such case is that of a woman, who allegedly misused her connections with the Chief Minister's Office for large scale financial fraud with her partner.
But social psychologists disapprove of expressions like "female criminality", holding that the real issue is cultural deprivation which corrupts all sections, including women.
There had been several 'intelligent' crimes involving women in the past decade in Kerala, who unlike their male counterparts, resort to aggressive methods to achieve their ends, allegedly using their scheming skills, beauty and charm to lure people into their traps to extract money.
Most cases involving women are fraudulent financial deals, though murder and violence are not uncommon. Cheating cases like the solar scam, in which the woman and her live-in partner were involved, came into focus with its links with the Chief Minister's close aides, are the most common mode of operation by women offenders.
Often they are used by male partners for 'honey trap' and menfolk in the state, now earning notoriety for sex scandals, fall for it at the cost of their own lives and reputation.
The woman and her partner, who cheated crores of rupees from the rich, including businessmen, doctors and other professionals offering them solar energy solutions and sales agencies, mostly went in search of people holding black money. Many frauds done by them have not yet come to light as most victims who gave black money to them are scared of filing complaints, police said.
The woman allegedly managed to forge friendships with the higher-ups in political parties and police. It is this connection she used to mislead clients to extract money. C J John, eminent psychiatrist, says women turn to crimes mostly out of disappointments in life and there should be efforts to instill confidence in them.
"The cultural corruption in society--greed, consumerism, over-sexuality--has pervaded all sections, including women, teenagers and even children. With advancement of technology, it is easy to get connected with a woman and inspire her for good or bad things," John told.
"Though there are a few women criminals, generally they have always been the catalytic force that drives society to virtuousness. Their biological nature is to dissuade others from crimes. We need to provide all protection to this gender," he said.
"In crimes involving women, there is almost always a man inspiring from behind. Most cases are not solitary efforts of women though the pattern may change in future," says John.
A similar cheating case had erupted in Thiruvananthapuram in 2003 in which young, smart fraudster Sabarinath cheated people attracting investments of around Rs 500 crore for his firm offering huge interest. Here also, he used smart women to lure investors and they too landed in the accused list.
By establishing high connections with ministers and police top brass, he jumped bail and is still absconding, while Chandramathi and Ramani, his accomplices, are facing trial. Shobha John, who ran a sex racket and a mafia gang centred in Kochi, now languishing in jail, is another example. Police call her the first 'woman goonda' in the state.
Police sources said she owned around 150 vehicles and had at least 25 goondas in her gang. Sherin, who allegedly murdered father-in-law at Chengannur in 2010 to keep her flamboyant life going, is another 'star criminal' among women prisoners in Kerala.
She is now serving a life sentence in jail. More macabre is the case of Dr Omana, an ophthalmologist from Payyanur in Kannur district, who killed her lover by injecting poison and cut his body into pieces in the retiring room of Ootty railway station in 1996.
Like the character in a Hollywood psychopathic thriller, she stuffed the pieces into a suitcase and hired a taxi to Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu to dispose the body. But the driver got suspicious and she was arrested by police in Udhagamandalam. Omana jumped bail in 2001 and is still untraced, despite a red corner notice by Interpol.
A total of 207 women are in various prisons of the state at present, of which 56 are convicted criminals and 151 are facing trial. Only 10 women are facing cases of prostitution. While eight women have been convicted in abkari (hooch) cases, 27 are facing trial in such cases.
As many as 33 women are undergoing life imprisonment for murder. Cases of prostitution appear to be on the decline in Kerala as flesh trade mostly takes place in high-end hotels and raids in such places are very rare, sources said.
Compared to the national scenario, women criminals are very less in Kerala, but there is still a significant number. "Female criminals are generally seen in white collar crimes like cheating, financial crimes, bank loan frauds, fake cheques, sale of fake products and money laundering," said a lawyer.