Up to 60,000 girls in the UK are vulnerable to severe violence, often in gangs, but they are “invisible” to most gang prevention services targeting boys, a new report says.
Via Jason Farrell, Home Editor @JasonFarrellSky
Tuesday, July 18, 2023 22:01, UK
A new report warns of an invisible risk to tens of thousands of vulnerable girls who face violence and exploitation in gangs.
The Committee on Youth Lives and Manchester Metropolitan University estimate that they account for up to a third of young people at risk of being involved in extreme violence.
The report says up to 60,000 girls in the UK – often in gangs – are vulnerable to severe violence but are “invisible” with most gang prevention services targeting boys.
After losing her father at the age of 16, Asha had to fend for herself. She was placed in a council house in south London and is expected to organize her own meals and pay her utility bills.
Surviving means finding a source of income – and a new family.
“I was in what people call ‘county street’,” she said.
“So most of my childhood was waking up alone to catch the train for hours, going to remote areas, far from friends, being alone for long periods of time.”
Asha will travel from London Go to small towns and cities, transport drugs and bring money back to the gang. Usually, she will carry drugs inside, which can be extremely dangerous.
“As women, we can hide things much more easily,” she said. “I think there’s a feeling that since we’re women we won’t get caught.”
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Asha has been arrested. She is transporting Class A drugs from the Netherlands to the UK.
In the end, she ended up in jail and said that this was the first time she received any help to divert her from the gangs.
A recent study by city police an estimated one-third of people affected by gangs are women despite making up only 0.2 per cent of known gang-related people in London.
The charity Redthread, which reaches out to vulnerable young people who are hospitalized, said last year 38% of these were female.
Aliya Ali, who used to sell drugs to gangs, is now supporting other women with the “Fatherless Daughters” organization.
“The most common risk for boys and young adults is violence,” she said.
“Meanwhile for girls, it’s not just physical violence, it’s sexual abuse and exploitation, it’s emotional and emotional abuse. And so is trauma and experience. classified into layers.
“A lot of the experts in our field, they put us in that frame, that box, that even I’m in, those are complex needs. And that’s basically what that means. they don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to start.”
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Anne Longfield, chair of the Child Lives Committee, said: “It is now clear that thousands of girls are being harmed, sexually assaulted, raped or controlled in an unrecognized manner and scale. receive.
“Sadly, girls’ experiences are often hidden – out of sight and out of reach of most services and supports to address severe violence, district boundaries and girl-centered exploitation. male.”
A new film, called Save Me, will be premiering in schools next term and will hopefully upend the issue.
Made by Aviard Inspires, its central character is a girl in a gang and its message is that the community needs to be more wary of vulnerable teenagers.
Filmmaker Amani Simpson said: “I remember growing up and seeing young girls who were quite vulnerable and dressed a little old and getting attention from older boys who could give them money, care or transport them around.
“I want to nationalize the conversation, because, outside of London, this is a story that a lot of young people, whatever your background, are dealing with.”
Professor Hannah Smithson, director of Manchester The Center for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Our research and evidence-gathering provides clear direction for policymakers looking to address these issues, supporting Helping girls and young women succeed and prevent harm.
“More focus – besides investment – on early help and community development, gender-based, culturally representative, trauma-informed support is key.
“Creating an environment where girls and young women can build trusting relationships with people they can relate to, and continue to reveal what’s going on, is very important.”
Today’s report recommends a range of measures including:
- Training for teachers, medical professionals and police to raise awareness of the issue.
- Special programs for young people to support girls at risk of abuse, control and exploitation.