Several studies and researches have been carried out on male gangs. This is because many known gangs have male members. Again, most of the activities that gangs engage are very crude and so in usual circumstances, women will not be involved. This is based on the assumption that women are soft-hearted and very gentle, and it is unlikely to find them in such gangs. The subject of gangs is mostly associated with the male gender because the violent and crude activities that many gangs take part in are simply considered by the society as “masculine” acts. Those females who are gang members are said to be going against the forces of nature by violating gender roles. Since 1980’s, many people have taken a particular interest in this issue. Researchers started looking into the issue and doing research about it. The researchers realized they needed to take the issue of female gangs seriously and that females played a major part in gang involvement and were not just shadows of the ever existing male gangs .
Researches and studies that have been done in recent years show that participation and involvement in female gangs has been on the increase steadily in the past few years. A study done in 1996 by National Youth Gang Survey stated that, “females account for 11% of all gang members.” This is a very large number bearing in mind the perceptions that the society has towards gangs and females. Female gangs may be autonomous in that a gang will have only female members. On the other hand, a female gang can be allied with another male gang. A female gang can also be part of a larger gang that is comprised of both female and male gang members. Such a gang is usually divided into two; the female group and the male group. Usually the members of these gangs are initiated into the gangs by being beaten or being made to take part in some criminal activities, just as in male gangs.
One institution in the United States of America has been involved in researches concerning female gangs. The institution, “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention(OJJDP)”, has released several reports stating that the number of members of female gangs cannot be clearly determined. However, the number is significant since quite a number of ladies have been reported as being members of the gangs. Reports published by this institution also show that the population of females in a city can make up to a 1/3 of the total number of members of female gangs. This is because these female gangs are more common in small cities and rural areas.
It is difficult to acquire data about these gangs because the members are suspicious of everyone and will not disclose any information about them, their activities, and their lifestyles, be it about their membership or anything else in relation to the gangs. Gangs make sure that members are sworn to secrecy during initiations and if one member dares disclose any anything about them, they are punished by being severely beaten, which may result to death.
Most of the information about the gangs is therefore acquired from law enforcement agencies. Again, these agencies also set limitations to the information they give since they too have their codes of ethics that they have to maintain al through. This makes the information not so reliable since it is not as detailed as one would want.
Many ladies who join the female gangs do so when they are still very young. These ladies have a number of reasons that push them into joining the gangs. The “National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association” has reported that many recruits are usually between 12 and 18 years of age.
Many of these young ladies come from dysfunctional families, and end up having low self-esteem. It has been psychologically proven that when someone suffers from low self esteem, they tend to look for somewhere else where they can go and be accepted. This is because their main problem usually is feeling wanted and this can easily solved if they find a place where they are made to have a sense of belonging. Again, these young ladies have histories of victimization are will therefore join gangs to be assured of protection. Most of these ladies are victims of vices such as sexual abuse, where in most cases, many are victims of rape. They therefore may join the gangs so that they may have a proper platform to carry out revenge plans on those who may have offended them. However, these young ladies will rarely talk about the forms of abuse (physical or sexual abuse), they may have gone through at home or even in the gang.
The reasons for a young lady to want to join a female gang are often personal and complicated, and may differ depending on the individual. All in all, these reasons are generally the same as for the males. Some reports have stated that some people join the gangs for friendship reasons and self-affirmation, while others join the gangsto escape from economic and family pressures.
The “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention” has released reports that state that not all who join the gangs come from families with poor economic backgrounds, or broken families. In this case, broken families are families where only one parent is present and he/she has to play the role s of both parents. Children form such families may try to look elsewhere for comfort or acceptance since some societies tend to look down on them. Others just join the gangs for fun or to just break the daily monotony of life.
Peer pressure has also been a major reason why many young ladies join the gangs. This is common to young ladies who chose to keep the wrong company, and do not have strong personal principles. They are convinced to join the gangs and others are initiated into the gangs even without their knowledge. Most of them realize this when it is too late and may they try to pull out, they are severely punished or even killed. For fear of this, some chose to remain in the
gangs and play along. The female gangs may also entice people into joining the gangs by promising things like money, popularity, family love and anything that they lack and may be in need of. However, there are those that join the gangs for excitement, money, drugs, or fear of threats and intimidation.
There are other young ladies who join the gangs by default. Such people are usually raised in families that have the culture of gangs. Such are families where the family members, friends, or even boyfriends have been part of gangs for a long time. This makes them join the gangs because they feel that being part of a gang is the way of life.
No one can completely understand why a person would want to be a member of any gang, and more so females. This is because there is no definite reason for that. It all depends on the individual who chooses to join the gang, with the exception of those who are initiated without their knowledge.