Third of gang rape victims are aged under 15 and attacks are increasing
Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent
Scotland Yard has launched an inquiry into gang rapes after new figures revealed a massive rise in the number of incidents and that victims were getting younger.
There were 93 gang rapes last year compared with 36 in 2003/04.
Police define the offence as being a sex attack by three or more people, although research by the Met shows an increase in the number of assaults involving four or more attackers.
The report, ordered by the Metropolitan Police Authority, shows the average age of victims has fallen. In 1998/99 a total of 48 per cent were 19 or younger. Last year that total had reached 64 per cent. Thirty-six per cent of victims were 15 or younger. Ages of suspects have dropped as well. Forty-two per cent were 19 and under last year, compared with 38 per cent In 2003/04. The number of suspects in their twenties fell slightly over that period, from 32 per cent to 30 per cent.
The study was undertaken by a senior detective from the Yard's Operation Sapphire team, which investigates sex crimes. It comes after a series of convictions of teenagers for gang rapes. Two men who assaulted a girl aged 16 and doused her in caustic soda, disfiguring her for life, had their sentences increased on appeal this year.
In another case a 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped “as punishment” by nine members of a Hackney gang because she had “insulted” their leader and called him “ugly”. The report, by Detective Chief Inspector Mark Yexley, says the Met “recognises multiple-perpetrator sex offending linked to youth violence as one of the most serious crime types”.
It adds that gang rape is less likely to be reported than other offences because there are often social links between victims and suspects.
Boroughs with the highest rates of gang rapes include Lambeth, Croydon, Newham, Southwark, Westminster and Hackney. The Met has commissioned research from Dr Miranda Horvath, a lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Surrey. She is focusing on the “cultural context” of gang rape and liaising with police across Britain. She is also examining the experience of the United States.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company, a charity that helps abused children, warned this year of a “shocking increase” in the number of girls being gang raped. She said: “Gang rape has become a way of meting out brutal punishment to girls who go out with members of a rival gang, or who talk back and are regarded as rude girls' acting above their station. Gang rape is a kind of trophy humiliation.”
The Met also said it had asked for research into the issues of female gang membership and gang violence. Mr Yexley's report shows that in 2008/09 eight per cent of groups of gang rape suspects were white, 32 per cent were black, and 24 per cent contained members of different ethnicities. The make-up for the rest was unknown.
The proportion of white victims fell from 69 per cent in 1998/99 to 50 per cent last year, while the number of black victims doubled from 17 per cent to 34 per cent.
The report says: “Offences are complex ... from allegations of consensual sex between victims and a known party followed by non-consensual assaults committed by associates, to stranger attacks involving large groups.”
Scarred for life by caustic soda
In January last year, a 16-year-old girl was raped by three men who threw caustic soda on her, disfiguring her for life. Rogel McMorris, 18, above right, Jason Brew, 19, right, and Hector Muaimba, 20, attacked their victim — who had a mental age of eight — in a Tottenham flat for two hours.
In January, McMorris was jailed for nine years, Brew for six and Muaimba for eight. The Court of Appeal increased the “unduly lenient” terms given to McMorris and Brew to 14 years and nine years.
Delphi Newman, then 37, was gang raped on the towpath of the Grand Union Canal in Ladbroke Grove. The songwriter waived her right to anonymity to speak out. She was walking home in July 2000 when up to 14 boys and girls attacked her.
Claire Marsh, 18, above, ripped off Ms Newman's clothes and encouraged others to rape her. Two rapists, Marvin Edwards and Nathan Hewitt, were jailed for five years, serving half their sentence. Marsh was jailed for seven years in 2001. Ms Newman said of Marsh: “I will always remember her laughing and leading them on.”