10/02/2012 03:23 GMT

Girls Raped By Their Own Gang Members To Receive Victims Fund

A million pound fund has been appointed to help girl gang members who are often raped by men in their gang, the government has announced

A £1.2 million fund has been apportioned to help rape victims the Home Office said.

A network of 13 Young People's Advocates, which will work in areas most affected by gangs, will provide direct support to young people who have been victims of sexual violence or exploitation or are at risk of becoming victims.

Detective Allen Davis, of the Metropolitan Police, who was leading one of the sessions at Lilian Baylis Technology School in Kennington, said: "Girls need to know they are used and abused within gangs, that they are passed and around and are second class citizens.

"Ultimately girls are disposable, it's the boys that gain status and respect by putting in work and that means committing crime and hurting people. Girls get status in this world by who they have sex with and it makes them very vulnerable, the boys have the power to use and abuse them."

Mr Davis added: "We talk about the idea that girls are setting up other boys to be hurt and other girls to be raped, that the girls are there to conceal the drugs and the guns. They are there unfortunately to be used for the sexual pleasure of gang members."

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone yesterday visited the south-west London school where pupils were learning about gangs and sexual violence.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Featherstone said: "It's quite clear that everyone would be entirely shocked by the level of violence girls and young women have to experience if they get involved with gangs and it has been a very hidden issue.

"The fund for advocates is about putting in specialised, expert, sensitive support to work with these young girls so they can be helped.

"They will form a network across the country to share information and best practice to make inroads into such a horrific issue."

In the school session, specialist youth workers and serving and retired police officers from the Growing Against Gangs and Violence project discussed what being in a gang is like and how it can involve rape and violence.

The project, which has received £30,000 from the Home Office, aims to raise awareness and change attitudes to gangs.

A mixed group of year 10 pupils, aged between 14 and 15, discussed what a gang is, what it means to be in one and how it can lead to rape.

The group was told girls are at the bottom of the hierarchy in a gang environment.

The group then divided by gender, with the girls discussing why females may want to join a gang or go out with a gang member and how gangs use young girls.

Youth workers also warned the teenagers about what can happen if they become involved in gangs and criminal activity.

In the boys session they learnt about what happens if they are convicted of rape and what prison is like.

Fontane Ly, 15, said: "I found the session useful. I live in Lambeth and I know it's dangerous so it's nice to know what help I can get.

"Most girls think nothing will happen to them."

She added: "I know quite a lot of people in quite a lot of gangs but I don't associate with them because I know what could happen and the consequences."

Soneil Gones, 15, said the session made him realise how awful prison is.

"It made you wonder why girls want to be with these kind of people, why they want attention from those kind of people.

"We learnt you can get a life sentence for rape and how prison removes any dignity you have."