Gangs using rape as weapon for revenge on London streets
Girls as young as 11 targeted in 'sket lists' as a form of revenge seen as less risky than carrying a knife
Gangs in London are increasingly using rape as a way to take revenge on their rivals, police and charities have warned.
Girls as young as 11 are being targeted for "revenge rapes" with sexual assault becoming as "prevalent as carrying a knife or a gun", reports the Evening Standard.
The Metropolitan Police has recorded an increase in the use of sexual violence by gangs, including incidents of revenge rape, where the sisters and girlfriends of rival gang members are targeted.
London gangs are drawing up lists of teenage girls as rape targets, says Claire Hubberstey, interim chief executive of Safer London Foundation. The so-called "sket lists" – "sket" being the street slang for "sluts" – are circulated through BlackBerry Messenger, prompting attacks in which girls have even been dragged from school buses and sexually assaulted.
Safer London Foundation has found that some girls were also "offered" to rival gangs to bolster allegiances or foster a truce.
"Criminals are clever, they know if they are caught carrying weapons they face a lengthy sentence; it's risky carrying a gun," she tells The Guardian. "The use of sexual violence is the same sort of thing as having a dangerous dog; it creates fear, it's non-traceable, and they are also taking advantage of low rape conviction rates even when there are witnesses."
More than 500 young women were victims of gang-related sexual violence in the past year, according to the charity, but Hubberstey says that is just the "tip of the iceberg".
While London gun crime has fallen by 17 per cent and knife crime offences have fallen by 11.5 per cent, Scotland Yard says that sexual violence against women by gangs is now at the top of its agenda.
Det Supt Tim Champion, of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident gang crime command, told the Guardian: "The first thing we had to do is stop people killing each other. The focus now clearly is on women. It's as prevalent as carrying a knife or a gun – raping a girl in a gang."