For those of you who have been reading a while, you know I’m a sucker for documentaries. I don’t know how this one appeared on my radar, but I was surprised at how entranced I became with the story.
Very Young Girls is a documentary about sexual exploitation in America. The Neflix package summarizes it as follows:
David Schisgall’s startling documentary captures the heartbreaking stories of underage girls – many as young as 13 – who’ve been forced into prostitution in New York, exposing how pimps use isolation, violence and drugs to keep girls dependent. Many of the girls interviewed take part in GEMS, a shelter and mentoring program founded by activist Rachel Lloyd – once a prostitute herself – that helps them transition out of ‘the life.’
I found the movie to be very compelling. You forget that these girls are only 13-15; they look and talk like they are much older. There are at least eight girls who are interviewed about their time in ‘the life’ or ‘the game.’ You see many of them struggle with their self-worth. Many of them speak about their pimps as if they were their boyfriends – they can’t seem to leave their abusive relationship. Some speak of money and how it’s hard to leave, knowing that there’s a steady source of income waiting if they need it. Many spoke of drug addiction and you view a few girls leave the program and return to their lives on the streets.
Most of this is shown within the context of GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services). The viewer sees the life of Rachel, who sits with these girls, counseling them and even taking time from her vacation to track down a girl in Miami who ran away from the program. Her role in this film is integral and illustrates how hard, and yet how rewarding, the life of a leader can be.
As interesting as the entire film was, I really enjoyed the fact that they followed up on each of the characters in the story at the end. I hate when there are loose ends at the finish of a movie!