Very Young Girls (2007)
Very Young Girls, whose title reflects the fact that in the United States the average age of entry into prostitution is just thirteen. The film takes us into the work of a former sexually exploited youth-turned-activist named Rachel Lloyd, who started the New York City organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) to help victimized young women escape their pimps and find another way of life. We meet teen aged girls at different stages of this transition. Some have been so psychologically manipulated by their pimps that they feel compelled to return. Others have successfully broken with their pasts. As we come to know these girls better, they emerge as well-rounded individuals full of unexpected laughter and insight. One chilling element the film uncovers is a videotape - confiscated by police - of two pimps recording their activities with the intent of making a reality television show. Later we see Lloyd get recognized for her work at a human rights awards ceremony shortly after the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" wins an Academy Award.
- Very Young Girls is a documentary film that chronicles the journey of young women through the underground world of sexual exploitation in New York City.A 14-year-old girl is lured from her home, beaten, raped, held captive, and sold for sex in New York City. The police find her -- and arrest her.
A man who has sex with an underage girl should be prosecuted as a criminal rapist. But there is a loophole: if the child accepts money in exchange for sex, the rapist is now a "john" and rarely is subjected to greater punishment than a fine. For the very same act, the girl is often prosecuted as a prostitute and sent into detention. The average age of entry into prostitution today in the Untied States is 13 years old.
The United States government likes to say it leads the world in combating sexual trafficking, and grades other countries on their compliance. If a woman has been brought from the Ukraine to Manhattan and coerced to have sex for money, the US government provides her services under the 2002 Sex Trafficking legislation. She is a victim. But if she is a African-American girl brought to Manhattan from the Bronx, she's a criminal and she's going to jail.
Our double standard arises partly from myths about prostitution, promoted in the movies, song, and reality TV - girls are empowered sex workers, strung-out crack whores, greedy "hos," or hookers with hearts of gold. Very Young Girls shows clearly, that with the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States at thirteen, that sexual exploitation is simply a commercial form of child sexual abuse, the effect of which can continue into adulthood and beyond.
The film follows the girls in real time, using verité and intimate interviews with the girls both when they are still working and when in recovery, The film also uses footage shot by pimps themselves that illustrate exactly how it all starts. Very Young Girls tells the story of girls who spend their teenage years being recruited and brainwashed by predatory pimps, bought and sold on the street, sent to jail, and then recovering from the trauma of sexual exploitation.
Recovery occurs through Rachel Lloyd, who runs GEMS, the only survivor-led organization in New York that offers services to sexually exploited girls. Rachel rescued herself from sexual exploitation, and she and her staff are relentless in their mission to help girls sent by the courts to GEMS after being arrested, or found on the streets by GEMS staffers, to piece their lives back together in group therapy. But sessions reopen wounds as girls relive memories of the abusive homes they ran away from, pimps who convinced them that they were "in love," the nightly rapes they endured to make money so their pimp would give them attention instead of a beating; and the fear that they will never be anything but a "ho" in anyone's eyes - including their own. A few girls will succeed, some will remain suspended on the edge of two worlds, and others will be sucked back into the underground.
Very Young Girls will change the way law enforcement, the media, and society as a whole look at sexual exploitation. [D-Man2010]
Focuses on the work of a former sexually exploited youth-turned-activist named Rachel Lloyd, who started the New York City organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) to help victimized young women escape their pimps and make a new start. Some of the teenage girls she works with have been so psychologically manipulated by their pimps that they continue to fall back into old routines. However, some have been able to make a cleaner break with their past. [D-Man2010]