How Do Foreign Women End Up in Prison? An Intersectional Approach of Criminal Pathways

  • Sílvia Gomes


In the context of crime studies that articulate variables such as nationality and gender, issues of relative deprivation, social exclusion and social inequalities are transversal in the attempt to understand both the causes of crime and the performance of the criminal- and social-control institutions. Taking this into account and focusing on the Portuguese context, the main purpose of this article is to understand how foreign women from African Portuguese-Speaking countries (PALOP) and Eastern European countries end up in prison. Drawing on 12 qualitative interviews, we aim to verify to what extent certain crimes and imprisonment are a result of combined effects, melding processes of social inequality, exclusion, prejudice, daily and institutional racism; and, when comparing this finding with national and international studies, we aim to expose the idiosyncrasies in the links between crime and nationality (and class) when we introduce a gender perspective, namely, an intersectional approach. We conclude that the objective living conditions of these foreign women prisoners—and the intersections of gender, social class and nationality—co-structure criminal involvement, either by action or by the reaction from the criminal control agents.


Pathways to prison Intersectional approach Foreign women 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sílvia Gomes
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CICS.NOVA Universidade do MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto Universitário da Maia (ISMAI)MaiaPortugal

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