Thank you Ms. Jacobs for introducing us to GEMS and Ms. Rachel Lloyd.
Originally posted on Ruth Jacobs:
How did you get involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?
I came to the US in 1997, originally working as a missionary with a very small non-profit that was working with adult women in the commercial sex industry. At that point, there really wasn’t a movement per se, just a handful of organizations here and there, and it was just seen as a ‘prostitution’ issue that should be dealt with primarily through the criminal justice system. Within my first few weeks on doing outreach into the jails and on the streets, I met girls and young women, and adult women, who’d experienced so much violence, trauma and exploitation but were being seen and treated as criminals and pariahs. There were no specific services in NYC for a girl or young woman who was in the life and there was no sense of a need for larger systemic and structural change. Because of my own experiences as a survivor, the commonalities I saw that I shared with the girls and young women I was meeting and my frustration with the way that they were being treated, I felt compelled to do something. My experience in 1998 as a delegate at the First International Summit for Sexually Exploited Youth introduced me to other youth survivors who were strong and empowered, and gave me a deeper understanding of what needed to change socially and politically. It was an incredibly transformative experience and I founded GEMS a few months later on my kitchen table.
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