IS GANG RELATED VIOLENCE LARGELY ABOUT HONOR, RITUAL AND TERRITORY? AND HOW FAR DO I AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT AND WHY?
Gang related violence has been discussed widely in the fields of sociology and criminology. The reasons of why and how these gangs related to violence and crimes are emerging have also been disputable topics between sociologists and criminologists. Gangs have always existed within different subcultures in different parts of the world. Some are big and some are are small.
In this essay, I am going to dissect if gang related violence is largely about honour, ritual and territory, and how far I agree with that statement and why.
I have divided the title into three stages which I am going to answer stage after stage:
- Is gang related violence largely about honour? And how far do I agree with this statement and why?
- Is gang related violence largely about ritual? And how far do I agree with this statement and why?
- And is gang related violence largely about territory? And how far do I agree with this statement and why?
I will also scrutinize the topic from a personal view, because of the title itself, where I should scrutinize if gang related violence is largely about honour, ritual and territory, and how far I personally agree with that statement, and why I agree or disagree with my statements.
Is gang related violence largely about honour? And how far do I agree with this statement and why?
Gangs which are related to crimes have always had different subcultures, aims and purposes. It doesn’t matter whether it is a political or a social group. The first question I will answer, is if gang related violence is largely about honour and how far I agree with that statement and why?
MS-13 is one of the best examples to describe a gang whose purpose is to aspire for honour and dignity. The gang began in the barrios of Los Angeles and was formed by immigrants who fled the civil war of El-Salvador and other members came from Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. The first point to focus on is that those members of MS-13 come from countries which already have cultures which are infiltrated with honour and dignity. So, the members of MS-13 incorporated that establishment of their principles into their own gang and connected the sentiments of honour and dignity into the world of crimes. Of course, honour and dignity are interpreted differently within different gangs. It depends on the structure and the background of the gang. MS-13 is famous for three things within their territories: murders, rapes and control. If for example a member of MS-13 has broken the rules of honour and dignity, he can be punished or even killed. Secondly, if for example the women of MS-13 have broken the principles of honour and dignity, they can be raped or even killed. The reason why is because of incidents of cheating and exposing information about MS-13 to the police or to other rivals of MS-13. MS-13 has the aspiration of expansion, and we can see that MS-13 has been spread to different areas in the US, where the Salvadorans and Mexicans are predominant within those societies.
Honour in some gangs can be one of the strongest principles. It depends on the structure of that gang. On the other hand, I don’t believe that gangs merely focus on honour and dignity. I believe that the world of gangs is much deeper than this statement. Different individuals have joined different gangs due to different reasons. Some causes may be poverty, war, social exclusion, psychological disorders, bullying or violence. From this point, we can see that the different individuals within for example MS-13, have different strategies, aims and purposes of why they have joined M-13. The gang leader of MS-13 may prioritize honour as the first priority, but the question arises: are the members of MS-13 going to fulfil the principles and the rules of honour and dignity to the maximum limit?
On the other hand, honour in correlation to gangs can also be connected to racism. Blood and honour which was founded in UK is one of the examples. It’s composed of white nationalists and has links to combat 18. The core of the group is to create a solidarity between white people in order to build up a hostility against non-white individuals. The difference between MS-13 and blood and honour, is that blood and honour is composed by native British individuals who have a sense of honour to protect Britain from foreign influences by strengthening the nationalism within them, while on the other hand, MS-13 is a gang whose individuals are immigrants from Central America who fled Central America due to war, poverty and misery. Both have something in common, they strive for honour and dignity within the societies they are living in.
How far do I agree with the statement that gang related violence is largely about honour and why?
I agree to some extent that honour has a strong role within the principles of some gangs in different regions of the world where the culture and the structure of that society is emphasizing the importance of familial and societal honour and dignity. Those regions are cultural, and you must hold on to the principles of those regions. If you don’t hold on to these principles, then the society will automatically ostracize you. The definition of honour differs from place to place, and the driving forces are different. Some may strive for honour, because the individuals are in a low-class system in the society they are living in, while others may strive for honour and dignity because of nationalism, pride and racism.
Is gang related violence largely about ritual?
A big part of a gang is of course its symbols, rituals and rites. Recently, the exploitation of women in UK has increased. Women in UK have been sexually abused by the sexual rituals performed by different gangs in UK. Male gang members in UK are entrapping girls and they are using them for sexual rituals and gratification, and they are being used to hide weapons and carry drugs for male gang members. These types of activities have also become known as grooming.
Students in UK also fall prey to gang initiation rites. Would-be gang members in university cities are being told that they must steal from students as part of their initiation rite. Different gangs have different initiation rites. Some are beating their new members, while others are forcing them to commit crimes they don’t want to commit. Many students are prey to these rituals because they are easy targets and the universities are reluctant to warn their students in order to preserve their reputations. Many students are also living in housing estates that border deprived areas where locals are jealous of their affluence.
Beating up children is a normal initiation ritual in South-West of London. They must be beaten up for them to join the gang. Beating as an initiation ritual is also normal within the gangs of Central America (Especially MS-13). It’s an indication of toughness and manhood for these gangs. You will not be socially accepted within these gangs if you are not ready to abuse and beat up individuals. The more toughness and manhood you possess, the more respect you will receive.
Ritual abuse of children is something that is also occurring in UK, and especially in the world of witchcraft and magic. Children are being tortured and even murdered during these barbaric rituals. This culture is often found within the African communities in UK. The purpose of these rituals is to liberate evil spirits from the bodies of the children they claim to be possessed by evil spirits. African children are even being trafficked to UK for blood rituals. These traffickers are abducting African children from their families in order to traffic them to UK for cruel rituals which are performed by gangs that are linked to the world of witchcraft.  
How far do I agree with the statement that gang related violence is largely about rituals?
Of course, Rituals are part of the organized crimes of the gangs which are related to violence. They are forced to have a peculiar and a specific ritual code in order to build their communication. Rituals are used in initiation ceremonies and other occasions. However, I would say that the rituals of the gangs constitute a big part of the organized system of the gangs. Every gang has its own culture which creates the gang’s specific identity. The initiation rituals are also there to mark the conditions of the gangs. Every gang has their own rules and principles, and I believe that rituals are there to mark the conditions of the gang and the circumstances you must go through to join the gang you want to join. Rituals are also there to act like a “warm-up” for more serious crimes. Rituals are also linked to the systematic habits of the gangs, which of course constitute big parts of their daily routines. So yes, I believe that gang related violence is largely about rituals, because rituals are a big part of the habitual and daily routines of the gangs which are related to the violence and the crimes of the gangs. Rituals themselves are the social core of the criminal actions of the gangs, and what would a gang be without its criminal actions?
Is gang related violence largely about territory?
One of the strongest and biggest aspirations of criminal gangs, is to expand their territory. London’s gang territories are going “unchecked” by police officers. The problem is that criminal gangs in UK are very organized in a way where the police have a hard time controlling the territories. Gangs in those territories are marking their territories with drug dealers who are there to support the different criminal gangs they are allied with economically. Many Politicians in UK have tried to “wage war” against those territories which are controlled by these criminal gangs, but they have failed because of the huge sizes and the strong organizations of the criminal gangs in London and throughout UK. The other reason is due to the silence culture within these segregated territories which are mostly controlled by these criminal gangs, and this gives the police a lack of information. 
Another reason for the aspirations of expansions within the controlled territories is marginalization. Many individuals who live in those segregated territories which are controlled by criminal gangs are politically, socially and economically marginalized. Children are also being recruited in these territories, and this is going to create a new generation of criminal youngsters, who are going to create new problems in these territories. The problem with the British government is that they only see territoriality as a political problem, when it is also a social and economic problem. It is not just about seeing the problem from a perspective where only the politicians are concerned. One must also be willing to understand that territoriality is a problem that is affecting the social and economic aspects of society. From all of these three aspects of gang related violence (honour, rituals and territoriality), territoriality is considered to be the biggest political problem of them all, because of the fact that territoriality creates problems such as riots, segregation, racism and social corruption, which are going to harm the social structure within the British society and the legal system. 
Gangs in London are becoming more organised, ruthless and focused on making profits from drugs. They have become more business-driven and ruthless, and they want to expand their territories in order to achieve their social and economic aims. They are using the tools of social media in order to inspire the youngsters and they are using social media in order to keep their identities anonymous. The gangs also use old fashioned Nokia, so that they can’t be tracked by the police. The gangs also use these old-fashioned cell phones in order to expand their economic interests through drugs and weapons. Some gang members also use Facebook to gather information about the personal lives of police officers and gang members are even recording the numbers of plates of different police cars to scare and intimidate the police officers. The gangs are driven by a desire for profits. So instead of postcodes being a territory to defend, they have become a drug market to protect. Young girls and women are also being used by gangs to transport drugs to regional towns and cities between the different segregated territories that are controlled by the different criminal gangs. All of this is a process of a competition between these criminal gangs which constitute a power game of social, economic, cultural and expansionary power in the streets of UK and London.
How far do I agree with the statement that gang related violence is largely about territory?
One of the biggest purposes of gang related violence is of course to expand its influence and power to other regions and territories. I agree with the statement of the British politicians that the territoriality of the gangs is a big political problem and the biggest problems of the three aspects I have discussed : honour, rituals and territoriality. The expansion of the gangs to other regions and territories will create problems within the social structure of the society. The different expansions will clash with other rivals of the different gangs and the non-criminal individuals who live in those segregated areas within the society of UK. The politicians and the police officers in UK have to track down the territorial problems first in order for the process to become easier to accomplish. Because with territorial power, the power of honour and ritual will come automatically come. The spread and the influence of the different gangs will make it much easier for the youngsters to be recruited, and it will be easier for the youth to be inspired by the different gangs due to their territorial and regional power they have achieved to spread in UK.
As I have mentioned, different gangs within different regions of the world have different purposes, aims and goals. Honour itself is interpreted differently in different regions of the world, whether it is in Central America or in UK. It’s about respect and dignity. The different gangs in different marginalized and segregated areas are seeking the world of violence in order to achieve the social honour and the attention from the society. Most of the gangs in UK are located in segregated and marginalized areas.
Initiation rites and rituals are used almost everywhere in the world within the different gangs. It is a way of establishing the conditions and the norms of the gang, which the gang is expressing to the public sphere so that the one who wants to be recruited knows the preconditions in order to join the criminal gang. The goals and aims of the different rituals within the different gangs also have different motives, whether they are religious motives or social motives.
Of course, the final aim of the gangs in UK is to expand in an unlimited way, and the driving force they use to expand their territories is of course money. With the money, they buy and sell weapons and drugs. That’s why the territoriality of the different gangs in UK is the biggest political problem and the only political problem compared to the other two aspects: honour and ritual.
Honour, rituals and territoriality are something almost every gang in the UK is striving for. We can’t deny that these three aspects play a huge role for the different criminal gangs. At the same time, criminals in UK are not only seeking honour, rituals and territory, but also a sense of appreciation and attention from the society which they are ostracized in. So, I would not say that gang related violence is largely about honour, rituals and territory. Rather, they constitute a big part of the aspirations of the criminal gangs in UK. Rather, it is a combination of many other aspects which explain the gang related violence in UK.
| Amir Zabidi
| IS GANG RELATED VIOLENCE LARGELY ABOUT HONOR, RITUAL AND TERRITORY? AND HOW FAR DO I AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT AND WHY?