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A qualitative study of gang-associated sexual violence towards, and exploitation of young people in England reports the findings of a two year study by the University of Bedfordshire which included individual interviews with 188 young people aged 13 to 28 years and focus groups with 76 professionals from across the six research sites.

The report – entitled It’s Wrong But You Get Used To It – found that girls as young as 11 are being systematically groomed, exploited and raped in the worst gang-affected areas of the UK, with the peer-on-peer violence going undetected, unreported and ignored.

Sue Berelowitz, the deputy children’s commissioner, said rape was widespread and happened “on a daily basis” in the worst-hit areas.

“As soon as a girl has had sex, coerced or otherwise, it is completely open season on her. She has abrogated all right to refuse to have sex with someone for all time. They will and do have sex with her any time, any place and anywhere,” she said.

She added that the “sheer levels of sadism” uncovered by the inquiry had been shocking.

Only one in 12 interviewees – 32% of whom said they were black British, while 28% were white and 21% dual heritage – felt that young people would be likely to speak out about or report sexual violence or exploitation.  As one young woman put it: “It’s normal … It’s wrong, but you get used to it … Welcome to our generation.”