“Somebody who sold you… for fifty bucks and a case of beer! …I’m sorry” These words shouted at Penny Lane, a character from the movie “Almost Famous” would be harsh words for anyone to hear. She was sold by someone who played at loving her to get what he wanted. She was an object, a thing, something that was no more valuable than fifty dollars and a case of beer.
With a single phrase Penny Lane is sold, seen as no more than a commodity, and stunned she replies the only way she can without crying “Well, I hope it was Heineken”.She was reduced to a sophisticated poker chip as her fate was sealed by the actions of another.
While western culture often looks at devaluing women as an external issue, characterized by the sex trade, lack of education for girls, and perceived and real oppression – the line from this movie along with a recent article from Women’s Enews reminded me that these are not just issues from far away places.
The article cited the state of Georgia, where a law was passed in April imposing higher fines on pimps as well as a 25 year minimum prison sentence for coercing sex from those under 18. The campaign “A Future, Not a Past” in Georgia gives an estimate of 250 to 300 underage trafficked girls in the state and have a concern that most people make an assumption that sex trafficking is an issue across the ocean, instead of one on the doorstep. The Washington DC based group, The Rebecca Project for Human Rights is also concerned that trafficking and exploitation in the United States is largely ignored.
One of the ways the Rebecca Project has addressed their concerns of child trafficking state-side is by taking on the popular Craig’s List. While most of us look to Craig’s List as a great way to find everything from furniture to apartments, the dark side of the site has been an adult services section. The Rebecca Project successfully lobbied to shut down this section. Craig’s List inadvertently ended up being a perfect spot for children to be trafficked under a guise of “Adult Services”. Malika Saada Saar, Director of the Rebecca Project calls this a “Cyber Slave Market” targeting under-age girls, made vulnerable through difficult home and life circumstances.
No one should be owned by another. No one, not Penny Lane sold for fifty dollars and a case of beer to a musician during a card game, or the 14-year old sold by the pimp down the street.
The two videos I have linked below are clear descriptions of the problem and clear calls to action. Take a look and see what you think!
“No girl in America should be for sale. It is unacceptable and it must stop!” Malika Saada Saar – Founder and Director of The Rebecca Project.
- Marcia G. Yerman: Women in the World: Stories and Solutions Summit 2011 (huffingtonpost.com)