Girl gangs, are on the rise on the Cape Flats, sucking young girls into drug trafficking, petty crime and prostitution.
While the association of women with male gangs is not new, observers say girls from 14 to 18 are now forming their own gangs, which are affiliated to mainstream gangs or operate independently.
Many of the gangs appear to have roots in schools, raising concern about violence in schools in a context where gang warfare is a constant reality, with competing gangs engaged in ongoing battles for territory. Girl gangsters tend to be disruptive at school, picking fights and engaging in violent behaviour.The attraction of teen girls to gangs is explained by a December policy paper released by the Children and Youth in Organised Armed Violence project, which conducts research into gangs.
The paper said children turned to gangs for assistance and support when there was nowhere else to turn.
This was because gang infested communities often had a lack of access to social and health services, which in turn fed into a perception that they were marginalised.
The threat of being caught up in gang conflict led to children seeking the protection of one gang over another.