Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Over the weekend, I happened to catch this documentary on Showtime. It was probably the most riveting 83 minutes I've spent in front of my television screen for a long time.

Did you know that the average age of girls who are sexually exploited and forced into prostitution here in the US is just 13? I still shake my head as I write that figure, and more so as I write that there is only one non-profit center in the entire state of New York helping sexually exploited and trafficked girls.

That center is known as Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, or GEMS, and was started out of an apartment and just $30 by Rachel Lloyd, herself a victim of sexual exploitation. Lloyd counsels some 200 girls every year, helping them to overcome lives of prostitution. These are largely girls who have been arrested for solicitation and are required to attend GEMS as part of their sentencing. The sad part about this all, and let me tell you, there's a lot to be sad about here, that these are just the girls who have been caught in the net of law enforcement. There are countless more out there who go undetected and live out entire lives of unspeakable submission and exploitation.

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