(From Stella Magazine)
Byline: Julie Bindel
'If you live in a gang area,' says Keisha, a 20-year-old living in London, 'it's nearly impossible not to end
up being involved with the gangs in some way or another. I have always associated with a lot of boys who were in gangs.' According to the latest government figures one in four violent attacks now involves a female. Between 2006 and 2008 more than 900 weapons were confiscated from children aged between eight and 18; many of them were girls being used as 'weapon mules', concealing guns and knives for male gang members.
Some of these gangs are based in housing estates, others in a particular postcode. The groups, each made up of about 100 teenagers and twentysomethings, engage in turf wars over the control of small-time drug deals. Some members can earn enough money to make status purchases such as semi-automatic pistols or BMWs. There are an estimated 2,800 active gangs in England
and Wales. Nobody knows how many girls are involved in them but the number is significant and growing. Females tend to attach themselves to established male gangs; of the 174 gangs in London only three are thought to be girl-only.
According to Carlene Firmin, the policy officer at Race on the Agenda, one of Britain's leading social policy think-tanks, 'A lot of effort is put into trying to understand and work with male gang members, but girls do not get anywhere near the same amount of attention.'
It is a problem, says Firmin, that cuts across all sections of society. Many of the girls involved in gangs are from troubled backgrounds, but not all. One girl told me
that she rebelled against …