Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged at least £1.2 million over the next three years to improve services for women who are victims of sexual violence in major urban areas.
Sexual violence against young women, particularly in relation to gang violence, is a serious issue which the government needs to “shine a light on”, according to May. She has warned that the girlfriends of gang members are subjected to physical and sexual violence as part of gang disputes.
She told The Guardian: “They would find themselves being abused and sometimes being used as weapons - raping a rival gang leader's girlfriend to get back at that gang.”
May’s promise is part of a larger plan to tackle gang violence in inner city areas. Other proposed strategies include a rehousing scheme for former gang members who wish to get away from their old lifestyle. In addition, youth workers could be placed in hospital A&E departments to refer young people brought in with gang-related injuries.
However, not everyone is impressed. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, criticised May for launching the scheme at the same that anti-gangs funding was being cut across Britain. She stated: “The loss of 16,000 police officers and cuts to community safety funding will undermine work to deal with gangs and violence in communities across the country.”
Words: Stacey Siebritz