CSEC victims shall no longer be silent!

As I timidly entered the Performing Arts Center in my school where the GEMS assembly would take place, I could not help but think how involved I have become with the issue of CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) and how passionate I have become in the fight to end it.

As I approached the stage, I changed my walk and became more confident. However, when I saw Rachel Lloyd, it hit me. I was about to share with my schoolmates what my feminism class has been discussing and show that

Picture of me interviewing Rachel Lloyd (photo by Steve Neiman, used with permission)

the issue of CSEC is real. My reaction when I saw Lloyd was not that there was actually someone behind the book Girls Like Us, but that there are really children out in the world being abused, and being robbed of their childhood.

During the assembly, I felt as if I had a role and that I was starting a movement. In that moment it all relied on me. I realized that I would need to make a decision between taking a stand or just considering what is happening to these girls as educational and forget about what I had learned as soon as the trimester is over. However, I find that what is happening to these girls is too disturbing to only turn around and forget at the end of the trimester. So I write; writing is my only voice.

Let’s talk about this pimp culture; the new generation needs to open their eyes to understand what being a pimp really is. Pimping is not what society had made us believe it is; it is not cool, it is not being a thug, or being a hustler. Being a pimp is being an immoral bum, who wants to make easy money. The only way he sees that he can make that easy money is by making young girls -who have not yet discovered who they are- sell their bodies.

When these girls jump in a pimp’s car, they don’t know that these men are pimps. These girls only want to feel sexy, they want to know what love is. Most of CSEC victims come from an unhealthy family, where love is not central. Dominique, in the film Very Young Girls got into “the life” just like that. Her pimp was there for her, he listened when no one ever did, he made her feel sexy, and loved. He made her feel like she had found a family.

These pimps take girls who have not yet built their self-esteem and usually come from living in a fragile household. They have never known how it feels to have a dad. These pimps take them in and treat them as their own “daughter” to a point where the girls call them “daddy” but also consider them as “boyfriend.” Pimps find a way to manipulate these CSEC victims and make them feel that the world outside is restrictive, and that the only place for them is in the “life” with their pimp.

Why is pimp culture glorified? Why is it that that when 50 Cent made his video P.I.M.P, it went platinum instead of being all over the news about its potential bad influence on children listening to this song? In Lloyd’s book, she talks about how 50 Cent was glorified when his single P.I.M.P was released. In his lyrics, he describes one of the girls working for him as having “ stitches in her head.” Several months later, Reebok rewarded him with a fifty-million-dollar sneaker-deal endorsement. A few years later, Vitaminwater did the same.

Why would he be awarded and glorified for such a single? Why was is loved by everyone? It was what the media wanted. Business is business, they go where they see a possibility of money. We as consumers need to take a stand and reject this sort of music!

I have to say that people do not take CSEC as seriously as it should be. I believe that the public is not educated enough about the issue. Lloyd talks about how the police do not consider these girls as victims. One of her girls at GEMS had relapsed and had gone to a pimp that lived right across the street from the GEMS office. Lloyd got tired of seeing one of her GEMS girls with a pimp and so she went to the police station and said that she had a 13 year old girl–even though the girl was really 16, but Lloyd knew they would care more if she had said 13-in the captivity of a pimp. Lloyd said that the police told her that  “13 year-old needs to learn proper morals.”

I don’t know if everyone is getting this, but a 13 year old does not realize she is being tricked into “the life.” This is what our world has come to. Children have to pay the consequences of immoral men. When these girls are in “the life,” there is no way out for them, because they have been taught by their pimps that there is nothing left for them, and that they have nowhere to go.

My feminism class had two outreach workers come in to explain more about CSEC and “the life.” Those forty-five minutes were probably the most interesting minutes in my life. For once, it was not about me. I was dedicating time to CSEC victims, I was doing what should have been done. And that is educating my peers about what CSEC really is.

Both of the outreach workers stories’ were devastating. The story that struck me the most was one that showed that not all police officers are bad. Her pimp, who supposedly loved her, was only calling her names like “You’re a ho,” and for a long time she accepted it. She gave in to the fact that there was nothing left for her.

However, she met a police officer who put her in the right direction, and he was the reason she found GEMS. GEMS took care of her, loved her, showed her what it was to be loved. Now she has her GEMS family.

Another fact about CSEC victims that people don’t seem to understand is that those girls do not think of the value of what their pimps give, they are content on the fact that they are being given something. Picture a girl who had never been given a present, never felt love. A girl like Tanya -in Girls Like Us- whose mother is an alcoholic and won’t by her a doll.When a girl like her gets in the “life” and her pimp buys her McDonald’s; as cheap as it may seem it is a big step from the perspective of the victim. “It’s hard to picture and adult woman, unless she is literally homeless or starving, being happy with Mickey D’s” (p 72-73, Girls Like US).

I personally understand where these girls are coming from, because I know how it feels to live alone, to not have a parent to depend on. When I got home from school tonight, there was no food; as I made my way to the Chinese Food, I thought to myself, “I would love having an adult figure paying for my food,” instead of money coming out of my pocket. However, there aren’t. So I pay, and think to myself, even if I am not being physically abused, I am still being abused. And I start thinking, as impossible as it may seem, common threads could be found in my story with those of CSEC victims.

Rachel Lloyd

3 thoughts on “CSEC victims shall no longer be silent!

  1. The story Rachel Lloyd told about “One of her girls at GEMS had relapse and had gone to a pimp that lived right across from GEMS” was so heartbreaking. It was sad that this young girl’s love for a man that is in reality her abuser and trafficker ran so deep, but this story was also infuriating because the police refused to do anything about it. It is so backwards.These young girls that grow up with nothing should be given as much as society can offer them, and we live in a society where the police can take the time to knock down a door for them.

  2. I had a really similar experience to you in terms of the assembly (seeing Rachel in person was so weird!). I also know exactly what you mean about pimps in mainstream culture. No one should be releasing songs that are misogynistic in the first place, and that they go platinum is just egregious. Not only do they set a bad example, the fact that their content only bothers a select group of people does not show our country in a positive light.

  3. I am also very angered by the fact that 50 cent won awards and received endorsements and had one of the top songs, when pimping is so obviously destructive to the individual, their families, and society.

    It is easy to blame other people for CSEC, but I think we really have to start with ourselves, by noticing the degrading music we listen to and deleting it, not standing for street harassment, and understanding what CSEC victims are experiencing and support them, instead of judging them.

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