Based on her research, Dr Tirion Havard describes how girls are exploited in criminal gangs, including drug trafficking and weapons transportation, through threats, sexual and economic violence. She highlights how girls in gangs are judged according to stereotypical norms that do not take into account the gender-based violence and coercive control exercised against them. Girls can be viewed as voluntarily active in gangs when the reality is often more complex.
In Sweden, too, girls' involvement in criminal gangs has gained greater attention. However, while they are involved in crime, they may also be exploited and subjected to gender-based violence such as coercive control and sexual abuse – abuse that may be facilitated through use of technology. When efforts to combat criminal gangs are focused on boys and young men, girls are at risk of being left behind.
Following Dr. Havard's talk, a panel of academics and practitioners from Sweden and the UK will discuss the topic. The discussion will touch on the panelists' experiences regarding the involvement and victimization of girls in criminal gangs. The discussion will also highlight how girls’ and women's involvement and exposure to gender-based violence in criminal gangs can be better identified, responded to and prevented.