The girls in the gangs

The life of young women involved in the gangs of El Salvador is rarely told.    This week a feature length article in the Pacific Standard by Lauren Markham titled The Girl Gangs of El Salvador provides a nuanced look at how young women may voluntarily or involuntarily become involved with the dangerous street gangs.  

Here is an excerpt:
Elena ran with a cool, alternative crowd of party kids, a relative social minority in El Salvador. She and her friends were always struggling to find weed on the street. Buying in bulk, she realized, would be cheaper, would make the stash last longer, and would also make her more popular among her friends. So one day she asked the tweaked-out neighborhood guy she usually bought from if he would take her to the headquarters so she could buy a larger quantity—a risky move, she knew, but one that played to her streak of recklessness and aspirational bravado. 
He took her to the "destroyer house," a small two-room structure where gang members congregated, nestled between the slums and her reasonably well-off San Salvador suburb. As Elena described it, "If you don’t have a place to go to sleep, that's where you're going to go—if you don't have a place to take your girl, or to rape, that's where you go. That's where they keep the drugs and that's where they keep the guns." 
She was scared, but cloaked herself in a mantle of outer toughness, projecting power with a sparkle of risk. She bought an ounce of weed and went back to her friends. When she showed them her score, their eyes bulged. She went back the next week for more.....
Read the rest of this excellent article here.