The average age of girls entering prostitution in the United States – 13 years old.
So we are told in the opening of the film “Very Young Girls” which I rented from NETFLIX and watched over the weekend. I had recently read the book “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd and it changed me. It made the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the US real to me. The stories of the girls reached in and grabbed my heart and I feel compelled to do what I can to end the sexual exploitation of girls in this country, and around the world.
We hear a lot about trafficking but the question is, what are we doing about it? What are you doing about it? If not much, you would not be alone. We have heard so many facts that I think we are being paralyzed by them. Facts are not what causes us to do something differently, real people do. Their stories do. That is why I felt I must read the book and watch the film. That is why I have become so passionate about funding social impact documentaries. They put faces, put people, put stories behind the issues.
While watching I kept asking myself questions. Some were answered, some were not. How in the world do these girls end up in these situations? Why don’t they just leave? How can they say they love the men who are selling them and beating them? How could it possibly be going on in OUR country? Who in the hell are these men who drive up in cars, or send that email, and PURCHASE these young girls for sex? Don’t they have daughters? Sisters? Mothers?
These pimps, these horrible men, lure the girls in with promises to take care of them. They buy them things, they promise them love and acceptance. That is how it begins. Then the beatings begin, the drugs, the trap has caught another victim. A victim. Most of the girls seem torn about leaving ‘the life’ because they often love the men who are abusing them. As shocking as it may be, this is a reality that pulls many of them back in. They often have no where to go if they do leave. GEMS is an organization I wrote about before and is a place for these girls to go. Thank you Rachel. Thank you.
The film takes you through the life of a number of girls that came to GEMS. Some make it out to move on to a better life. Others do not.
One of the most powerful moments for me in the film was when they showed a room full of men, 100 or so, who had to take a course because they picked up a GIRL for sex. The woman DA was telling them about what they had to do. Basically just take a short course and not do it again, and they would be free. She had barely begun to tell them about the fact that they were having sex with girls as young as 12 or 13 when a man’s hand shot up and asked “how long until the break?” They all started to laugh. It is a JOKE in our culture what happens to these men that do this. A JOKE.
As I watched girl after girl tell her story I kept thinking how could this be happening. How. One girl said how she really did not have a family. Her parents were drug addicts and were never there for her. She said “I forgave my dad. I forgave my mom. But I still wonder how could they not have come to save me?” Isn’t that a question we have to ask ourselves as a society – “why are we not coming to save them?”
If you have not done anything to help girls that are victims of commercial sexual exploitation it is time to do something. Give whatever you can and keep giving to one of these organizations below or to one of your choice. Please. I do not often ask my readers to give but I am asking you now. Only you will know if you even considered it, and if you want to send me a note to say you did it please do. If you cannot give then please just close your eyes this very second and say a prayer. Pray for all the girls around the world trapped in this situation and wish for them a better life.
Three links below of amazing organizations doing amazing work.
GEMS – Girls Empowerment Mentoring Services, the subject of the film.Half the Sky Movement – Buy the DVD, follow the links to many great organizations.