Performing at National Summit on Human Trafficking Changed My Life

On October 8, I was given the opportunity by the all girls theater company I’m a member of, The Arts Affect, to perform a play called A Day in the Life at the National Summit on Human Trafficking and State Courts in New York. This play reveals the truth about sex-trafficking and the impact of “pimp and ho” culture on lives of girls.

I was able to use my own power as a 16 year old girl to educate chief justices and court administrators from all around the country on the effects of human trafficking.  

Before we went on stage, our acting teachers told us that nobody in the audience wanted us to perform our play. They didn’t want to listen to what 15 teenage girls had to say about human trafficking. This did nothing but boost our motivation. We wanted to be heard. We wanted to take these justices out of the suffocating mindset of law and show them what it means to be trafficked from our perspective.

If a whole bunch of white rich men are going to be in charge of dealing with these cases, they need to be fairly educated on the reality of trafficking from a women’s perspective and not just what lies in the system of law.

We performed our play about sex trafficking at the National Summit of Human Trafficking and the State Courts in early October, just in time for International Day of the Girl. (Photo credit: Meg McInerney)

We went on stage and performed for these leaders. It felt powerful to be the one standing on stage, looking out at these people of such power and educating them on such an intense topic. Part of the play focuses on the fact that these girls are tricked into selling themselves. Here are a few lines from our play:

“He promised he’d take care of me – he said he’s be my man, my boyfriend, my protector…my daddy. I was 12. I was 14. I was 13 years old. I needed him. I believed him. I loved him. Who else did I have? So I was scared to leave him when he put me on the street.”

Girls who are incredibly young are being used and taken advantage of every day. Who better to go to than the ones creating and ruling on laws and controlling what happens to these girls? 

These judges hear so much about human trafficking, but rarely do they ever hear real, raw examples of how these girls truly feel. This is what I think really got to them.

When we finished our performance, the men and few women in the room seemed genuinely impressed and moved. They all stood up and clapped for us, giving me the feeling that maybe we had actually made an impact.

Many of them came up to us afterwards asking if we would come to their states and perform. It was such an incredible feeling to know that we spoke powerfully to the people who make important decisions regarding human trafficking and were honest and straight up with how the system unfairly treats young girls.

There is way too much blame placed on these innocent girls that are being forced into these situations. To give a new perspective to these people in such power was an amazing feeling.

Malala Yousafzai rallies youth to stand up for universal education at the United Nations Youth Assembly event. (UN Photo)

A few weeks ago, my high school feminism class watched Malala’s speech at the United Nations addressing the importance of education. The thing that struck me the most was when Malala said that she “does not even hate the Talib who shot [her], even if there was a gun in [her] hand, and he stood in front of [her], [she] would not shoot him.” Rather than feeling anger towards the Talib, she turned that feeling into hope. What she wants more than revenge is education for the Talib children.

Listening to Malala speak about education made me connect her story to a movie I watched for class called I Am a Girl.

This film “follows the lives of six different girls who differ by origin, economics, ethnicity and access to education. As they inch closer to adolescence they define what it means to be a girl in the 21st century.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.12.52 AM
Kimsey, a 16-year-old sex-worker in Cambodia, and the sole provider for her baby and diabetic mother. (Source: I am A Girl)

The story that stuck out to me was that of a 16 year old sex-worker in Cambodia. It was painful to watch the way she was treated by her husband. The man that paid her $300 to take her virginity didn’t know any better. 

That is where the pressing need for education comes in. I wish there was a way we, as high school students could effect legislative change that would create the education that is needed for moving our country and our world forward!

Education is such a crucial thing in our society, and ultimately the lack of it is what leads to the ignorance and gender-based violence we see all around the world. I want to be a part of making a change and a difference in young girls’ lives.

7 thoughts on “Performing at National Summit on Human Trafficking Changed My Life

  1. Lucy, I agree completely with the power of education. I am so fortunate to have access to so many learning opportunities and if it was not for them, I would not be who I am today. Education has shaped the way think, feel and understand the world.

  2. Lucy, this post is so powerful. It is so incredible that you got to perform for the judges and chief justices. I found it really moving when you stated that these judges handle cases like this all the time but hardly feel the impact of them. It is so important that these stories are shared.

  3. you talked about how the judges never did anything for these girls because they never heard the real raw feelings of these girls, but your performance changed the way they thought. the fact that people know this is going on but still have a hard time believing it is heartbreaking. I know a lot of people that don’t believe people when they say they are gay or they are bi or they were raped; they think they are doing it for attention. What you did definitely really helped but unfortunately, you can’t perform this piece for every single person on earth, how do you think we can bring these stories out to the world?

  4. I really admire that you took such great actions and performed for the court justices! We need to spread awareness the sexual trafficking is an issue nationally, not just globally and that it is an issue our court justices should be concerned with. Education is definitely essential to our growth as a nation. Perhaps there is a way for us to effect change as high school students! Your play is one example of a way to do that.

  5. I really enjoyed how you took action through the use of theater. The fact that your play made such a large impact on the justices is an example of how young women can be influential and powerful. Your blog post also really opened my eyes to how essential education is to empowering young women around the globe.

  6. What an amazing thing to do to share this kind of awareness on such a large level. It is such an important cause and it so moving to see the issues of sexual trafficking being taken so seriously. This was so brave and inspiring of you to do this kind of work!

  7. I have never heard of a group like this. I love the idea of taking action through art. I think it is super great of you to be in a program like this. I wish groups like these were more highly advertised. It is an interesting way to educate people because I think people will be more interested and connected to an issue like sexual trafficking if they see it in a way like this. It is also very powerful from such a young group of kids.

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