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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
OC Impact - BOOTY
Evening Standard (original article here)
Anna Davis, Education Correspondent
20 March 2012
Former gang members are touring London schools to warn teenage girls of the harsh realities of life in a gang.
Three women have launched a hard-hitting campaign to warn pupils about sexual exploitation and crime, drawing on their personal experiences.
They are visiting 30 schools with their play BOOTY, which tells the story of a girl who is murdered because she gets in with the wrong crowd.
Lynne Featherstone, minister for equalities, said: "People would be shocked if they could see the level of violence and abuse against girls in gangs. Our first priority is to protect girls who see themselves as worthless objects to be used in unacceptable ways."
Camilla Ferdinand, 17, from Camden, is telling her story as part of the project, organised by crime prevention programme OC Impact which since 2008, has been working with the Met to reach more than 7,000 young people at risk of getting involved in crime.
She said she drifted towards gang life when she was put into care and people on the street became her family: "My boyfriend was so nice to me when we were alone but when others were there he was horrible — it was like I was no one. Sometimes he'd hit me in front of his friends. He didn't respect me at all and only cared what the other boys thought.
"I also realised that it is not only the boys that disrespect girls. Girls disrespect themselves and each other — they crave attention from boys so much they'll do anything — hold drugs, guns, have sex — anything for some respect from boys. But boys don't respect you for that, they just use you."
Charlotte Neal, 49, from Chelsea, told how she ran brothels across England for 20 years before going into rehab and turning her back on drugs and crime. She said: "I can never forgive myself for some of the things I've done to girls in order to please men. As girls we have got to look after ourselves better and put a stop to all this abuse."
Peter Czajkowski, drama teacher at Park View school in Haringey, said: "My year 10 students watched the play and they were enthralled by it. It spoke to them just on the right level. We live in an area of Tottenham where these issues are around. The play acts as a safeguard for them to be able to recognise and talk about these issues."
My ambition saved me
Malaika "Lykez" Hendrickson, from Finsbury Park, joined a gang as a teenager but managed to leave because she wanted to start a career in music. She is now a rapper known as Lady Lykez.
The 21-year-old said: "When I was in school I just wanted to have fun. I wasn't interested in learning. Outside school I got involved with the wrong people and ended up being in a gang.
"There was always pressure to be bad, it was almost like bad was good and everyone wanted to prove how bad they were, especially to the boys."
She said girls were often asked to carry weapons or drugs in the belief that they were less likely to be stopped by the police. She added: "I didn't go to prison but I was heading that way and the only thing that saved me was my ambition. I wanted to be a famous rapper. The people around me involved in negative activities didn't have anything else to do.
"With crime it’s really difficult to get out. I have really close friends who have been in and out of prison, they are still in the cycle. A lot of girls are attracted to that life because it looks so glamorous with all the money and the bling. But I tell them you can have money and have a lovely life without getting into crime.
"My advice to girls is to find what you want to do when you are older —find an ambition. But most of all get your education." Anna Davis