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Female offenders with psychiatric disorders in Sri Lanka


M Chandradasa ,

University of Kelaniya, Ragama, LK
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Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine
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L Champika,

National Institute of Mental Health, LK
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S Mendis,

National Institute of Mental Health, LK
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N Fernando

National Institute of Mental Health, LK
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Female offenders are characterised by higher rates of psychiatric morbidity. Studies in developed countries show an increase in the number of female prisoners in recent years. The objectives of this study were first to describe socio-demographic factors and rates of psychiatric morbidity in female offenders, and second, among females with psychiatric illness, to compare those with and without a history of offending.


A retrospective case control study was carried out among 71 alleged female offenders who had been admitted to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Sri Lanka over an 18 months period. Females attending an outpatient psychiatry clinic with no prior history of offending were considered as controls. Data were collected from court reports and patient records.


Among the alleged offences, 63% were reported as ‘‘behavioural disturbance due to mental illness’’, and 14% as physical assault. The most common diagnoses among female offenders with psychiatric illness were schizophrenia (43%) and bipolar affective disorder (22%). Childhood sexual abuse was reported by 22% of cases compared to 12% of controls (p=0.08). Rates of marriage and employment were significantly lower among the female offenders with psychiatric illness, compared to the controls.


Patterns of psychiatric illness among female offenders in Sri Lanka may differ from that of the West. Among females with psychiatric illness in Sri Lanka, being single, unemployed and use of alcohol is significantly associated with offending compared to controls. Further research is required to explore these findings.

The Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry Vol 6(1) : 32-34
How to Cite: Chandradasa, M., Champika, L., Mendis, S. and Fernando, N., 2015. Female offenders with psychiatric disorders in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry, 6(1), pp.32–34. DOI:
Published on 11 Jun 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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