Gang crime, including gun and knife crime, attracts alarming attention within the media. When this involves women, there is ‘disproportionate’ coverage, portraying that girls are “just as bad as boys” (Burman et al 2003, Miller 2001). As well as the interest in female participation, there is some evidence to suggest that women involved in violent offending may have an increased risk of experiencing sexual violence; however, there is limited UK research for this.
As a response to these concerns, the nia project has introduced the ‘Safe Choices’ project and supported research into the claims between young women and sexual violence. The research was conducted from twenty-four agencies across London, including youth offending services and violence against women organisations (Weller, 2010). Interviews took place with policy-makers and practitioners to gain insight into the experience of working with young women and the link between violent offending and sexual victimisation (Weller, 2010).
Young Women and Offending
Experts worked with young females who admitted to involvement in a variety of offences, predominantly the possession of illegal weapons, drugs and cash, as well as assault. Instances of family assault were less frequently identified. A few experts were aware that girls were part of “setting up” attacks on other young people, including rape, sexual and physical assault, and would often carry the weapons for these attacks.
These offences were linked to defending reputations, and male influence was a key factor, despite their lack of involvement. Experts found a direct correlation between young women’s anger, their violent behaviour, and their experiences of sexual violenc...
... middle of paper ...
...sexual violence and sexual humiliation, and may also occur as a result of snitching on the group. Females can experience both threatening and actual sexual violence when exiting the group, which may lead them to stay.
The aims of the ’Safe Choices’ project is to reduce and prevent young women’s violence, through the use of individual and group work. The project is partnered with The Children’s Society and The Makeda Waver Project, who offer expert advice concerning violence against women, gang exiting and vulnerable children fields (Weller, 2010).
The project works with young women who often need support with housing, education, mental and physical health and trauma, and give them the support they need to make healthy life choices (Weller, 2010). The project also supports young men who are part of an offending gang and help their attitudes towards women.
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