When one in the US thinks of sex trafficking and exploitation, they tend to think of girls from lands with mostly unpronounceable names. Images of Russian "Natasha's", young Thai girls, girls on the streets of India, etc., however those images are not the only picture one must see in order to see the harsh reality of sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking.
While it is true that sex trafficking exists in every corner of the globe, young American girls are not immune form this demand driven plague of the flesh. Young vulnerable girls who are quite literally hunted, like animals in forest the girls are scoped out lured in by the weakness and naivety of innocence, the hunter the pimps who know how to infiltrate their minds with promises of love, affection and the attention they miss and crave.
The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 12 years old, 90% of those in the commercial sex industry have histories of abuse, thus making them easy prey in the jungle of demand and exploitation.
The film Very Young Girls, which follows the girls of NYC's GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, takes you into this harsh reality of the life of so many young All American girls. The film opens with a gritty intro into the mind of two pimps, Anthony and Chris Griffin shoot their own footage in an attempt to see their names in lights, or on MTV at the very least. Hoping for fame and fortune they used the camera to show the raw life of the very girls they exploit and essentially enslave, thankfully the same footage later put both behind bars.
"Ho Daddy", as he likes to be affectionately called, has been pimping for 6 years and when asked how many girls he had, he responded with; "I've pimped over 100 Ho's". Then his brother asked what they were going to do, he responded with; "Gona find me a Bitch, find you a Bitch, we could split a Bitch in half."
The graphic nature of the pimp languages is nothing compared to the actual life these young girls find themselves in on the streets. Insults are only the beginning of the mental breakdown and torture that these girls will face daily on the cold hard streets under the watchful eyes of their pimps.
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How does it all begin, how do these girls get lured onto the streets? Youth makes one easy prey , and girls are targeted for their naivety and vulnerability. Like hunters the pimps look for the perfect targetthey stake the girls out and woo them, learn their weaknesses and then when they have fully infiltrated they fire. Girls are lured in under the guise of girlfriends, pimps often act like the absent Father figure, caring for, protecting and buying the girls things until manipulation is second nature.
"I thought it was cool to be 12 and an old dude to be into me."
When it is all you know temptation is the chain that holds these girls innocence. Girls are often lured back by their pimps with promises of love and affection, other times its pure threats, regardless it never leads to anything better than before. Girls are overwhelmed with confusion; an emotional cocktail of fear, shame, devotion, uncertainty…lead many back to life on the streets.
The word love can become a mental shackle on a girlyou often hear the girls mention the word "dating" when speaking of pimps. When you see the everyday face of these girls you are not just struck by their stories of life on the streets, but you watch them slip into stories and banter like school girls going over the daily gossip. The girls in the film are real, their stories are shocking, but they are sadly not uncommon and they are all innocent victims who need protection, guidance and hope, thankfully they have found it in GEMS.