Girls in gangs are 'leading desperate lives' in world where 'rape is considered normal'

A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) into female gang members found sexual exploitation, drugs-running and gun handling is part of their routine life

Thousands of girls and young women trapped in gangs are living "desperate lives" where rape is considered normal, a new report has warned.

A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) into female gang members found sexual exploitation, drugs-running and gun handling is part of their routine life.

The think tank, founded by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, warned "too little" is changing despite the launch of a Home Office-led strategy into gang culture three years ago.

Researchers heard how female members are being pressured to have sex with boys - some as young as 10 - to initiate males into gangs.

Rape is used to control the female members and as a weapon against girls and women associated with rival gangs.

The report outlines a case where one schoolgirl was abducted and sexually assaulted by nine males because she criticised a gang member.

It also found female members as young as eight are being used to transport weapons and drugs because they are less likely to be stopped by police.

It added that in some areas problems have been exacerbated because headteachers have turned a blind eye to gang activity to protect their school's reputation.

Edward Boyd, CSJ deputy policy director and editor of the report, said: "We are often unsighted about the desperate lives of girls embroiled in gangs.

"While the media regularly shines a spotlight on the criminality of male members, the daily suffering of girls goes largely unnoticed.

"They live in a parallel world where rape is used as a weapon and carrying drugs and guns is seen as normal."

The Girls and Gangs study heard from current gang members, former gang members, charities working with gangs, government agencies and other frontline services.

The report added: "The CSJ said the Government was right in 2011 to identify that authorities did not know enough about girls and young women associated with gangs.

"Yet three years later too little progress has been made."

The think tank urged the Government to "map the problem" to allow better intervention work.

It wants to see youth workers placed in major trauma units at hospitals in gang-affected areas to find members.

It also called for police to team up with voluntary organisations to help the girlfriends of male gang members who are arrested or imprisoned to exit gang life.

A recent report said almost 2,500 children are known to be victims of child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups - but it is widely agreed this number is a conservative estimate.

Patrick Regan, chief executive of urban youth charity XLP, said: "The biggest issue with girls in gangs is that we simply don't know the full extent of the problem.

"The data we have is merely the tip of the iceberg and at XLP there is no doubt that we see increasing numbers of girls dragged into this appalling world of exploitation, criminality and hopelessness."

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: "We are already leading ground breaking work to identify vulnerable women and girls who can get drawn into gangs. Girls associated with gangs can face sexual violence and we have provided £1.2 million for 13 Young People's Advocates to support those at risk.

"Along with the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, we are looking at the scale of girls and women involved in gangs and what can be done to carry out appropriate interventions - good practice will be shared with other forces and local authorities.

"We also know we need to change attitudes to prevent young people getting involved in gangs in the first place. In this crucial area, our Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme is reaping rewards.

"We've set up a network of over 70 people with front line experience of dealing with gangs to work with 33 of the worst affected areas of the country, including 20 in London. Overall, youth violence has fallen across the local authority areas we're working with under the programme."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

.NET Developer

£650 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer ASP.Net, C#.net, WCF, WPF, .N...

Principal Arboricultural Consultant

£35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Principal Arboricu...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment