Thousands of British girls and young women have been blighted by a brutal gang culture of sexual exploitation, guns and drug-running, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has revealed.
The CSJ, which carried out the research with the London-based, urban youth charity XLP, found that some female gang members in their teens are being pressured to have sex with young boys — some as young as 10 — to initiate males into gangs.
Edward Boyd, deputy policy director and editor of the 36-page report, Girls and gangs, said, ‘Doing nothing is not an option. Gang life is blighting the lives and future of too many girls’.
In one case study, a schoolgirl was abducted and sexually assaulted by nine males because she criticised a gang member.
Rape is commonly used as a weapon, and girls and young women associated with rival gangs are targets. One charity told the CSJ about a practice known as a ‘line up’, where young females are made to perform sexual acts on groups of men in a row.
The study said that, despite a Home Office-led strategy against gang culture being launched in 2011, too little has changed.
Mr Boyd added: ‘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’.
Patrick Regan, XLP chief executive, said, ‘The biggest issue with girls in gangs is that we simply do not 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’.