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

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
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

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments