Do you see a woman standing on an inner-city street corner? Look closer now, past the hair and makeup and beyond the high-heeled shoes and tell me what do you see? Do you see a child in those high heel shoes, a child forced into playing an adult role. Every day very young children enter America’s commercially sold sex trade by force.
Some girls are as young as 11 or 12 when their new daddy picks them up from the street and begins grooming her to be his girl. The new daddy literally begins creating a new life for the girl who has run away or has no stable family life. Daddy quickly rules every aspect of the child’s new life. As a daddy, he provides for his girls, giving each girl what she needs to survive in the world, food, water, and shelter, and he gives the girls what she needs or craves, attention, affection, and protection.
When training them to be a prostitute the girls are isolated from any previous friends or family, if there is a family who is even aware or cares she is gone. They are under constant observation, observed like a hawk; the girl’s manager rarely leaves her alone, even when working the street. Through constant observation, brainwashing, and threats the girls learn how to go out and make money. Actually, prostitution is like falling down one of Alice in Wonderland’s dark rabbit holes. Reality is the girls already have hit bottom, many running away from a dysfunctional or abusive family life in the first place.
He, the manager, is usually 30 or 40 plus years, and he knows just what to say to sweet talk a young girl into coming home with him. For a while, he wines and dines her, making her believe he loves her. Then he has sex, now he moves in for the kill. He tells her he loves her and wants to be her man. He asks her if she loves him too. Then he tells her he will do anything for her, and asks if she feels the same way? Once she commits to him, he begins to exploit her sexually.
The following information is from a recent cable documentary called Very Young Girls. Shaniqua was 12 years old when she became a prostitute. Her new daddy who picked her up off a New York street immediately starts grooming her for a life of prostitution. She initially admits she thought it was cool an older man was paying attention to her. At first, he was nice to her during the honeymoon period. Her new daddy makes her commit verbal to making him money on the streets, telling her things to diminish her already low self-esteem. He calls her names to degrade her further, like dumb witch, change the w to a b.
Shaniqua runs away after her first few experiences as a prostitute, but her new daddy finds out where she is and is sitting in his car outside the friend’s home. She agrees to talk to him and after getting in the car, he asks her how she can make things better between them, what will it take for him to forgive her leaving him, her daddy. She says in a quiet voice “make money” and his reply “case closed.”
Most girls had no one to rely on before their daddy came along. Many girls desperately want to believe that what he is telling them about taking care of them is going to come true. Eventually Shaniqua who is badly beaten, left for dead, and during her recovery decides not to go back to that life.
Dominique is 14 years old when she first had sex for money. As a kid, Dominique tells the documentary camera that she dreamed of being an archeologist. Dominique learned to justify everything. The good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, because if did not make money she could not eat.
One time when she returns home in desperation to her dysfunctional family instead of welcoming her home with open arms and tears, her parents berate. Her biological father calls her the same degrading names her new daddy uses.
Her mother tells her how selfish she was because she only thought about herself and not what her mother was feeling. The parent blames the child, instead of realizing bad parenting and lack of support forced her into this life. She blames her for making adult decisions, when in actuality she is only a child.
Another child prostitute wonders at the end of a long hard day walking the streets why no one has come to try to find her. Some parents do look for their runaway child. A mother hangs up posters, showing her daughter’s face, she also drives the same streets where her child was last seen looking for a clue as to where she is now.
Yet, when a tip comes in from another girl not even the police will get involved. A mother begs police to come with her and rescue her daughter from the address she received on the phone. The police tell is nothing they can do tonight, as even the law does not have the authority to go banging down doors to help rescue a teenager who ran away and is in eminent danger.
In the documentary, one girl after being arrested for prostitution at the age of 14 is lucky to get a good lawyer who points out that legally she cannot consent to sex anywhere else so why is it alright here. Luckily for many of the girls in New York the program (GEMS) or Girls Educational and Mentoring System is available to help girls age 12-21 who have been sexually exploited in the sex trade industry. GEMS is run by Rachel Lloyd who herself worked in the commercial sex trafficking trade, and she believes that these girls deserve education and support, not a jail sentence.
When founded in 1999 one woman dreamed of helping the lost girls of America, the women sexually exploited as teenagers. The program helps young women who are victims of sexual exploitation develop new identities, find jobs, get medical care, find a place to live, and essentially develop a new life outside of prostitution. The dream of Rachel Lloyd is to end the commercial sex trafficking trade. I have included the link to the GEMS website.