Thursday, April 05, 2007

13-year-old prostitute?

I began reading New York magazine last summer when I was an intern in New York. (Fitting, right?) Well, I just happened to go over to the website yesterday and I came across this article about Lucilia, a young girl from Queens, who, after sexual and physical abuse at the hands of practically everyone she knew, was forced into prostitution at the age of 13.

Here's a small snippet of the article:

All you got to do is go up to the car in front of us,” said Romeo, the young black man with heavy-lidded eyes at the wheel. “You charge him whatever you want to charge him, you ask if he’s police or a pimp. He’s gonna give you money, and then you’re gonna just do whatever he wants you to do real quick. It’s just a one-minute thing.” He sent her out.

She went up to the other car. The man inside drove her to one of the big parking lots nearby, close to the Belt Parkway. He paid her $500, had sex with her, and then dropped her off. “Where the money?” Romeo asked her when she climbed back inside his car. “Let me count it.” Lucilia took the cash out of her pocket and watched him flip through the bills. “Can I have my money back?” she asked. “You not getting your money back!” he said. “You making this money for me to take care of you.” And then he explained what he called “the Game,” how he would love her and be her “daddy,” how he would take care of her and buy her whatever she wanted, as long as she brought him money. “Let me tell you,” he said. “I’m a pimp, and you’re a ho.” “What do you mean I’m a ho?” she asked. She knew the word only as an insult, as in, you’re nasty. “No,” he said. You’re a moneymaking ho.” “Is that good?” she asked. “Yeah,” he told her. “That’s good.” She was 13 years old.

What this article focuses on is not so much the fact that Lucilia was coerced into performing these sexual acts, but that she was treated as a criminal for accepting money for sex. This girl was threatened numerous times, beaten and gang-raped. She is a survivor, not a criminal. Go here to read more.

I strongly recommend everyone read this article. It upsets me so much to read about sexual abuse and tragedy that falls on these girls. What angers me even more is that the system in place isn't designed to protect them.

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