By Audrey Galex
I don’t even know why I went to the screening of a documentary on the buying and selling of kids for sex, because I walked out not even half way through. Went home and hugged my kids. I closed my eyes. I covered my ears. I shut my mouth. Maybe the problem would just, go, away, if I didn’t pay attention.
But then I met Marshall Rancifer. Marshall . . . who hands out condoms to sex workers and clean syringes to drug addicts so they won’t infect others with HIV/AIDS. Marshall — what was it you told me? About the 13 year old who solicited you. “If you don’t want some pussy, just keep walking…” it was something like that… You showed “Skittle’s” corner. And as you talked – opening your heart and home — I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
Then I met Dorsey who shared her story about selling herself to the neighbors to buy chicken and cabbage to feed her brothers and sisters .. Soul Scribe crafted a story that began with a question .. when do girls learn about the power between their legs? And the words: some smells just can’t be washed away. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
Then Yewande and Jasmine listened to Kasey’s story. Kasey, first abused for sex by her dad, then seduced by the allure of flash and money into the life of dancing and VIP Rooms and ..– a shallow life she’d later leave … and help others out of. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
Then Jonathan spoke of boys sold for sex and war and drugs — over and over and over — a puppy mill. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
And meeK spoke of truck stop sex .. our babies sent into red light districts on wheels. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
Then Jeff put a face on gay boys who feel they must engage in survival sex to fit in. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
And our precious Little Debbie’s shook me with their story of a girl lured into the life by a pimp who knew exactly how to make her feel loved and wanted, and then he beat her and snatched away her dignity, but not forever. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
And Alfonso put a face on a pimp who knew no other life .. then let spirit and scripture lead him to preaching a message of real love …a message from a higher power. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
And Jamele .. with brush strokes on canvas created what he heard and saw in his mind and heart’s eye .. and put a face on the crisis. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
Story after story: about girls branded with the name of their pimp, their hair cut and colored, their link to family and friends severed, humiliated over and over, groomed by men paying sweet attention investing maybe hundreds in their stable to make tens of thousands from each, turning tricks, night after night. I could no longer say: I didn’t know.
And now that YOU know, what are YOU doing to do about it?
This story originally appeared in Facing Sex Trafficking: Atlanta’s Dirty Little Secret, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by AIB TV in Atlanta, Georgia.