Original story and video at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16986934
According to youth workers in London, the face of gangs is changing and an increasing number of young girls are becoming involved. Girls enter these gangs often by becoming the girlfriend of a gang member with the belief that it would protect them. They often lack confidence in themselves and so feel they have to seek approval and it gives them a sense of belonging. The reality though is that they are exposing themselves to abuse and exploitation by their fellow gang members. According to one source girls are on the bottom rung when it comes to gang status; they are seen as tools, used as alibis and are often punished if they fail in their tasks by being raped. The girls are seen as disposable and abuse by their fellow gang members can be a means of the male members asserting their dominance and gaining respect.
Fortunately, this month £1.2million in funding has been announced by the UK government for a scheme that intends to highlight these problems and provide a source of protection for these vulnerable girls. The scheme involves a network of advocates that will work in areas most affected by gangs and form a support network for those affected by this type of abuse. I am all for this scheme targeting young people before they decide to enter into the gang world; all too often programmes such as this are aimed too late and it is very difficult for the young people to extricate themselves from that world. Not only should this scheme help in deterring young girls from becoming involved in gangs, I hope that it succeeds in re-educating the young male minds into viewing women more than mere sexual objects.
Girl Museum Inc.