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Any analysis of the current situation of women in connection with crimes and sentences in the Argentine Republic would not seem very different from the reality of any other Western country. The focus of this chapter will therefore be on what we view as the most relevant aspects of the deprivation of liberty of women in Argentina.
THE ISSUE FROM A CRIMINAL PERSPECTIVE
Quantification ofwomen's involvement in crimes
Since 1990, the Argentine Republic has seen an increase in the number of women engaged in actions that are considered crimes by the criminal law. Even while this statement might reasonably be held to be true, it should also be pointed out that Argentina keeps no records other than those relating to convicted persons and, in an incomplete manner, those of persons - without any distinction based on gender - who have been subject to a Deferred Judgment, similar to the common law concept of probation before sentence. Therefore we cannot speak of women offenders but only of convicted women, thus leaving an uncertain margin of obscure numbers.
The number of women convicted has increased at approximately the same rate as the total number of convictions over the whole country (men and women). If compared to the historical numbers of convictions for each sex, women's convictions still represent between 5% and 7% of total convictions. The increase in absolute numbers ofwomen's convictions coincides with the increase in the total number of convictions in the country over the last 20 years.
The above-mentioned obscure numbers are very important in Argentina, since every year, and throughout the whole country, statistics on criminal complaints show very significant values that are well above the rate of natural increase of the population, while convictions do not represent more than 2% to 3% of such complaints. There are devices such as Deferred Judgments which, precisely due to their nature, are not registered as convictions; but regardless of their deficient statistical recording, they do not alter the general impression of impunity resulting from comparing the number of complaints with the number of convictions, for both men and women.
Characteristics ofwomen's involvement in crimes
As we learn from international documents, female crimes have changed over the last 50 years.