Movie shows how girls are targeted for prostitution

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Dominique left an abusive home when she was 13 certain she could make it better on her own.

But being on her own left her scared and starved for love. So these words – “we’re family” – were magic to her, even coming from a man she hardly knew in a van she’d occasionally spotted on her block.

“Family? OK. Family? All right, I’m getting in the car,” Dominique recalls several years later, her chubby cheeks and boisterous giggle a reminder of how young she still is.

It was like a dream at first. The man bought her “Blues Clues” games and spun fairy tale-like stories of the day Dominique’s mother gave birth to her, as if he were her real dad. They slept in the same bed, and he just held her.

It didn’t stay like that for long. Soon Dominique was selling sex, climbing into cars while her “father” waited to collect the cash she’d bring in. She’d sit in hotel rooms with his other girls, waiting for him to bring food, late into the night. He got her hooked on drugs.

Dominique explains how she was manipulated into a life of prostitution in “Very Young Girls,” a 2007 documentary by filmmaker David Schisgall. The film, which takes place in New York City, follows the lives of a group of young women as they try to leave prostitution with the help of the nonprofit service provider Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS).

West Side residents are invited to a free screening of the film and discussion at 5:30 p.m. today at Genesis on the Ave., 5811 W. Chicago Ave.

Prostitution is a reality that far too many Austin residents know – and one that everyone seems afraid to talk about, said Roman Morrow, an Austin resident who is planning the screening in conjunction with GEMS.

The Austin neighborhood claims the highest number of prostitution arrests in the city, followed by the Gold Coast and Humboldt Park, according to a February article by Medill Reports.

“The event is to shine the spotlight on prostitution in the Austin community,” Morrow said. “This is something we have been sweeping under the rug for quite some time.”

Screenings like this are a way for communities to raise awareness about sexual exploitation – something that happens far more often than most people want to admit, said GEMS Campaign Coordinator Jenny Park.

“It’s much more prevalent than you’d realize,” Parks said. “Runaway and homeless youth are very vulnerable because they have basic survival needs, like food and shelter. It doesn’t take much to gain their trust.”

And as the title of the film suggests, girls entering prostitution tend to be extremely young and preyed upon; the average age is 12 to 14, Parks said. Yet when they’re arrested, she said, the justice system tends to treat them as adults. (That problem was helped in Illinois last year with the passage of the Illinois Safe Children Act, which prevents the prosecution of minors accused of prostitution.)

Morrow, who unsuccessfully ran for 29th Ward alderman in February, hopes the screening will spark some interesting conversations about what the Austin community can do to stop the sexual exploitation of children.

At the same time, Morrow said, it’s important that conversation also consider the perspective of johns and pimps.

“Why do pimps degrade women like that? There’s some (reason). They’ve seen their father, nine times out of 10, do that, or they’ve seen it on TV,” he said. “You have to understand, they need help too.”

More than 30 people had RSVPed for the screening as of Tuesday, Morrow said, including mothers who are bringing their daughters – though everyone, men included, are encouraged to attend. He warns that while there is no sex in the film, there is graphic language and some may find the subject matter disturbing.

To RSVP for today’s screening, call (312) 618-5665. Refreshments will be served.


3 thoughts on “Movie shows how girls are targeted for prostitution

  1. I think indoor prostitution should be decriminalized, not legalized as there is a HUGE difference.,_wealthiest,_most_educated_women_of_their_time

    Once you do a bit of reading what you find out is that back in the 19th century, marriage WAS SLAVERY. Women were not allowed to leave home till they married and marriage was a BUSINESS. Women were not allowed to go in public alone, nor work or vote and if they inherited property it became their husbands and the husband was FREE to beat and rape his wife.
    In 1910 we created the MANN ACT (the white slavery act) that was suppose to be to stop Human Trafficking, yet the real reason was to stop white women from fraternizing with black men. The Mann Act also gave CONGRESS its power and formed the FBI.
    Our federal law states that each state has the right NOT make its own prostitution laws and in order to be charged with the Mann act one would have to exploit another person into prostitution and cross state lines. This was the way the Fed’s are suppose to intervene.
    Yet in 2010 the FBI spend a 800,000 grant in just 3 days supposedly to do a 3 day nationwide child prostitution sting. After arresting 884 people, we had 69 TEEN RUNAWAYS, along with their 99 pimps boyfriends and also caught up in the mix were over 700 adults looking to meet with another consenting adult in private. During this sting, more middle aged people were arrested than THE TEENS THEY WANTED TO RESCUE.

    Now we have Bill hr 5575 gong to congress which is to ask for hundreds of millions for services for these TEEN victims and the bill clearly states that any women over the age of 20 would NOT be eligible for services, and most of the money would be spend training FBI and vice to STALK MIDDLE AGED ESCORTS ONLINE.
    Now every city already has a whole juvenile court, a dept of child services, foster homes, boot camps and reform schools, but the women OVER 20 years of age have NO SERVICES. These people are trying to convince us that these RUNAWAY TEENS ARE VICTIMS and they are really UNGOVERNABLE TEENS that ran off with their boyfriends that exploited them. Are we not suppose to hold these teens accountable for their own behavior, why return them them with no real intervention to just run off again, and why is the parents not being held accountable for the COST OF RESCUING THEIR UNGOVERNABLE TEEN. Why not lock these teens up to protect them from themselves?
    Original prostitution laws were created “to stop a women from showing her wares in public” The media likes to portray all prostitutes as curb crawling drug addicts and yet most are really middle aged single parents desperately trying to escape POVERTY.
    Last year we spend 250 million to arrest 80,000 people for prostitution, that 250 million could have housed 80,000 women and children long term.

    Yet anyone wanting to legalize prostitution wants the women to help pay off the deficit, nobody is even considering creating long term services for women who do want to exit the industry. Or they want these women to be forced to work in brothels where they would have to give half their earnings to the brothel owner, pay rent and then pay taxes and not be able to refuse any clients.
    We are no dumb women, we know how to screen clients, advertise and choice our rates for our time. We not not need to be regulated anymore than any other business does, so why would we place regulations on this industry that is not placed on any other business. Why do we make it our business?
    In Rhode Island, in 1976 a federal laws suit was filed in RI by a women named Mona St.James who later formed the organization COYOTE . The complaint was what right did they state have in the sexual conduct of consenting adults, and also they were only arresting the women and not the men. The case was dismissed by a compromise and indoor prostitution became legal in RI in 1979.
    For 30 years there was never one case of human trafficking, women could work for massage spas or from their homes. There was never one public nuisance complaint in over 30 years (too bad we can’t say that about nightclubs). The police never bothered to go into any spa, and check for ID to make sure the girls were of legal age and in the country legally. Yet they did run front page news articles about how sad it was that one could buy sex a block from city hall. These businesses were licensed and paid taxes and they even donated money to the state police and other local charities and the women spend their money in the other local businesses.
    In 2009 the Craigslist killer, killed a girl in Boston and then went to RI and robbed a escort and he was CAUGHT because the escort dialed 911 as she had PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

    Then in Nov 2009 they criminalize indoor prostitution (putting all the women in the state in harms way) as they claimed they could not investigate human trafficking without criminalizing us.
    Ironically the police go in to strip clubs all the time and do ID checks and ask the girls if they are OK but for some reason they insisted this would not work in RI.
    Now we have 10 women who have murdered in Long Island and even though they knew at least 5 of these girls were online escorts, the cops told the media that serial killers rarely murder hookers, one man on Long Island reported the women coming to door asking for help and when he told her he was calling the cops to help her, she ran off and has never been seen again. The man reported this in May 2010 and it took till Aug 2010 for them to follow up, and even a CNN reported wants to know if a prompt investigation was not done because after all these girls were JUST HOOKERS. is a place dedicated to THE SAFETY & PROTECTION of escorts, we are trying to find services for women WHO do want to exit the industry and we are also trying to create new laws to protect sex workers and stop the discrimination against them.
    Some cites want to create JOHN school so the men can walk away within criminal record. Even if a women has a 20 year old prostitution conviction, she can never get a job, or even rent an apartment.
    Law enforcement is in the news weekly, for exploiting these TEENS themselves, or for abusing hookers and some of these women are even raped and beaten while in custody just because they are prostitutes.
    To go a step further we ENCOURAGE society to hate these women with the “they get what they deserve attitude”. The cops brag to the media that they will continue to run these women from there communities. Do we really think these women would be better off or an safer living in the streets?

    Since they criminalize all the women in RI, the homeless rate for women in RI has increased 20% so far this year and the shelters are FULL.
    Now lets look at MORALS. It is legal and even sociably acceptable for a women to pick up a strange man in a nightclub, bring him he and have unprotected sex with him, while her small children are in the home. Men are now reporting that most women give it up by the 3rd date.
    Then we have the REAL HATERS that say they do NOT want it in their neighborhoods, while I agree with no allowing BROTHELS or Spa’s In a residential neighborhood, but wha about the independent escort. If you can have sex with whoever in your home, why can’t I, and we seem to only have issues with sex WHEN ITS NOT FREE.
    A Canadian judge ruled last year “that no public nuisance equals allowing women to be murdered” of course its ow in appeals court and they are trying to stop the sex workers from being able to testify in court.
    Then lets look at how the cops investigate these women, they use SWAT TEAMS to kick in the doors or these women homes, and then issue them a summons to appear, and some of these women are held on bonds as high as 20,000 even though they have not been charged with a felony.
    Sex workers are always court ordered for STD testing but the MEN/CLIENTS are not, even though they are the ones with the riskiest behaviors and even though our own heath dept studies show that “hookers have less std’s than the general public does and this is also true in Canada and these facts were presented to RI politicians by a Canadian Dr.
    NY has created a law that ANYONE CAN BE ARRESTED FOR CARRYING CONDOMS, that is not the way to promote safe sex, I think law enforcement WHO is swore to PROTECT & SERVE should be out handing out condoms to the street girls to help protect them and the public.

    Now lets look a the Human Trafficking advocates that have been collecting donations for the fight against human trafficking for years, the provide no services to the victims; instead the spend the money touring the country, like a politician, lying to the media about how many teens are being exploited. These grouped are anti prostitution groups in disguise and are the one PUTTING OUR YOUTH & WOMEN AT RISK by REFUSING US the same SANCTION & PROTECTION under the law given to all other citizens. Now if this is really about human trafficking, then why when they find a midlde aged escort do they arrest her?
    If we decriminalize and make these women pay for a year license which would go to the heath dept so these women would have access to Health care, the women could pay taxes into state, federal and social security and even unemployment, but part of their taxes would go directly for services for women WHO want to exit the adult industry.
    I always want to ask one of these DO GOODERS that if they were cold enough and hungry enough don’t they think they would turn a trick for a blanket and burger, so why be so JUDGMENTAL about SEX.

  2. Great job Roman bringing this issue to light. Too bad more community residents were not present and other media outlets failed to show.
    Thanks Austintalks!

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