Flash cars, high fashion, expensive jewelry, fine dining. For some people, the “allure” of gang life is hard to resist. It appears to offer easy money and riches most couldn’t dream of. The reality is far different and much harsher.
Often overlooked are the women who are lured into gang life by their boyfriends or husbands. Dependent on these men for their housing, food and all other necessities of life, they can be caught up in activities that will change their lives forever – and not for the better.
Sgt. Sandy Avelar and Cst. Anisha Parhar are determined to change that. Both former members of the VPD’s Gang Crime Unit, they created Her Time, the only anti-gang crime program of its kind and the only one led by an all-female team of officers and life coaches.
Their aim is to educate young women and girls about gang life – and discourage them from joining in the first place. Additionally, they provide resources to those already in the gang life and help them to exit and stay safe.
One success story is that of Kimberly M. Kimberly was an insecure teenager who came from a difficult home where there was abuse and violence. Her gang member boyfriend showered her with love and attention, though the detectives are unequivocal in stating that his behaviour was targeted and predatory. She had two children with him because she thought it would make her the main woman in his life. When she found she was far from the main woman in his life, and never would be, she left him. However, she has no education or skills, has never had a job and will remain reliant upon him for financial support, at least until her children are grown. She’s focussing on skill development now but has a strong message for those that think gang life is “sexy.”
Anisha and Sandy have been busy this year, adapting Her Time for virtual delivery and in COVID-safe ways. They have also been developing plans to expand the program in 2021, including partnering with Game Ready Fitness to house a permanent program in two physical locations – North Vancouver and Surrey.
Stay tuned for more good news about the incredible work of these amazing VPD officers.
We are incredibly grateful to the Diamond Foundation for their generous financial support of this program for the past two years.
You can support programs like Her Time by making a donation today. Gifts of all sizes make a difference.