Male and female perpetrators abuse children of any gender. They come from all social classes, they live heterosexually or homosexually and do not differ from non-abusing men or women in any of their external characteristics.
Abuse and gender
About 75 to 90 per cent of sexual abuse is committed by men or male adolescents and about 10 to 25 per cent by women or female adolescents. Both male and female perpetrators abuse minors of any gender, however women are more likely to abuse boys while men are more likely to abuse girls.
It has to be assumed that sexual abuse inflicted by women is discovered less frequently because they are expected less likely to commit such acts.
What are the male and female perpetrators' motives?
There is no uniform profile for perpetrators: various (international) studies have pointed out different factors that lead to perpetrators inflicting sexual violence on children or adolescents. The need to exercise power and to gain a feeling of superiority over someone else through the act is considered to be an essential motive in many cases. Some male perpetrators and a few female perpetrators also have a sexual fixation on children and this is known as “paedosexuality”.
However, the widespread assumption that anyone who sexually abuses children or adolescents is mentally ill is very wrong and this can lead to an unjustified denial of responsibility for the violence that was inflicted.