Documentary, discussion addresses sex trafficking

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Marshall University’s women’s studies program brought awareness to prostitution in New York, as well as locally through Wednesday night’s screening of the documentary “Very Young Girls” in the Memorial Student Center basement.

In the film, young girls who were once victims of sex trafficking recounted how men enticed them into believing they were interested in having genuine relationships with them, only to later bring them into prostitution.

The girls talked about how pimps often justified abusing them. The girls went in depth describing even dreams they had before and after their tribulations in “the life,” as they refer to their time in prostitution.

The film included home movies from two pimps from New York who documented how they hunted down young girls and sexually exploited them. The pair originally wanted the videos to be part of a cable TV show.

Women’s studies graduate assistant Sarah Reynolds said she thinks it is unbelievable such young girls are put through such unimaginable things.

“This film and topic is just heartbreaking,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said we do have a sex work issue in Huntington, but the issue is often dismissed and overlooked, making the victims feel alone.

“I can’t imagine going through something like this on my own,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the victims of sex trafficking. There are many organizations to help girls get out of the system, do great things and try to have a normal life.

This screening is part of a series of events at Marshall highlighting sex work in the area.

A book club discussion of “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd, fonder of GEMS, the New York organization the documentary followed, will take place in the Women’s Center Oct. 21. There will also be a panel discussion on sex work in Huntington Nov. 11 titled “Invisible Women.”

Kabz James can be contacted at [email protected]

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