Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mademoiselle Thug: France's Violent Girls

Some tragic background to last week's story of female gang violence in France, in this follow-up account interviewing the daily witnesses to the ongoing rise of female violent youths in France.

Translated from Le Parisien:
"Needing to affirm themselves", to "make themselves respected"; some adolescent women are more and more inclined to make use of violence, following the example of the boys, as with the scheduled confrontation between two gangs of girls, from Meaux and Noisiel, last Monday in Chelles (Seine-et-Marne).

According to the National Observatory of Delinquence (OND), the number of female minors brought to court for "voluntary physical assaults" had doubled between 2002 and 2007 (the rise for male minors was by 33%).

The [female minors] today represent one out of seven [youths] indicted for violence and threats.

Monday, in Chelles, about sixty people, the majority of which were girls, gave themselves a rendezvous at the bus station, for a settling of grudges, with bats, screwdrivers, knives.

"At high school there are clans, the one from Meaux, from Noisiel, from Montfermeil. Fights are common, the girls arrange their meetings by MSM [text messaging]. Most of the time, it's because of boys, but it can also be because of a look, a little sister who got hit...", an anonymous female student from Louis-Lumière high school explained, the school attended by one of the arrested girls from Monday night's fight.

For most of the students, the Monday meeting was noteworthy for its scale, but otherwise hardly unheard of. "This happens often. It's the girls from one city that want to confront the girls from another city, for everything and for nothing", explains another young woman. In this war for "territory", the girls imitate their male counterparts. "These are stories of neighborhood enemies. The guys from Meaux went down to Torcy to punch the lights out of the guys in Noisiel a few weeks ago", remembered Mohamed Chahib, physical education instructor in the Beauval neighborhood of Meaux.

"Marie", 17, attends Gaston-Bachelard high school in Chelles. Large pants, t-shirt down to her knees, headband in her hair, she's a "girl from Meaux", even if she says she never fights, except "one time because a girl had insulted my mother".

"We girls are aggressive towards each other. It's like that every day. In looks, in words. If you lower your eyes, it means you're weak. It's a matter of rivalry between clans, sometimes between nationalities, like between the West Indians and the Africans. The girls give themselves importance that way", the young lady explains calmly.

"It's the boys that push the girls to this... in how they under-value them, in showing them no respect (...) They were seen as chicks who did their homework and the dishes, they're fed up", she says. A point-of-view shared by the boys. "The girls do this to make themselves respected... you can't really call them girls anymore, these are guys!"

An anonymous teacher from Louis-Lumière [high school] confirms this: "The girls are compelled to conduct themselves this way, so that they aren't subjected to the boys' rules. They don't want to be victims. It's a question of equality".

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