Stab Wounds in Male and Female Victims

I recently analyzed the distribution of number of stab wounds in fatal stabbings, I also wanted to have a look at whether there are any gender differences. The limited data implies that female victims of stabbings (both in lethal and non-lethal stabbings) tend to receive more stab wounds than male victims. First data from “Murder By Stabbing” (A.C. Hunt) on this, which looked at n = 100 victims of fatal stabbings:

Number of Stab WoundsMale VictimsFemale Victims
155 %19 %
2-1029 %42 %
11-209 %19 %
> 207 %21 %

The difference is quite noticeable. About half the male victims received one stab wound, while this was only true for every fifth female victim. For male victims the chance of receiving more than 20 stab wounds was 1 in 14, while for female victims it was 1 in 5, three times more likely. However, given the small sample size, general conclusions should only be drawn with extreme caution. The data is in line though with what a larger Israeli sample found. “The Differences in Stabbing-Related Injury Profiles of Men and Women” (Michael Rozenfeld) includes data from n = 9173 non-fatal stabbings and produces the following result:

Number of Stab Wounds Male Victims Female Victims
1-288 %81 %
3+12 %19 %

Unfortunately the breakdown leaves much to the imagination, but as it stands, it does show that female victims are 1.6-times more likely to receive 3+ stab wounds than male victims. In agreement with this, the study also notes that female victims are about two times more likely to receive an Injurity Severity Score ISS > 16 (possibly fatal injury) than male victims.

Why do female victims seem to receive more stab wounds? One reason might be strength. Defense wounds are quite common in stabbings, people commonly fight back. And the stronger the victim, the more difficult it should be for the perpetrator to add more stab wounds. So one can see how the edge in strength for males might translate into fewer stab wounds.

The setting can provide an alternative (or additional) explanation. The Israeli study found that 48 % of female victims are stabbed at home and 26 % on the street, while for male victims only 6 % are stabbed at home and 51 % on the street. In short: Women tend to be stabbed at home, men on the street. When stabbing someone on the street, there are a lot of rational reasons to keep it short: possible witnesses, possible interferences by bystanders, presence of cameras, etc … At home however, a perpetrator can take his time and keep the stabbing going to subjective completion. In this way, the setting might explain the differences in the number of stab wounds.

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