Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself
When you think about trafficking, you think of "Thai girls in shackles", or "Russian girls held at gunpoint by the mob", or "illegal border crossings, fake passports, and captivity".
You don't think of Americans trafficking Americans; that doesn't happen to American girls.
You don't think about eleven-year-old girls being trafficked; that doesn't happen to eleven-year-old girls.
Allow Rachel Lloyd to set you straight.
Not because she is the executive director of GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), although that's a decent reason too.
But because she has lived that life. That's what makes her story stand out. And not just to the readers of Girls Like Us, but to the girls that GEMS assists.
One of them explains: "Everyone else, the counselors and stuff, they can be nice, but they had a luv-luv life. You feel me? A luv-luv life, they read about the shit we went through in some book -- that's good 'n' all but you lived this shit."
Rachel Lloyd is educating her readers about the impact of commercial sexual exploitation on girls, but she is also sharing her own life experience.
"It's different, your life was like ours, some the same, some different but you been there, you feel me?"
Rachel Lloyd's honest and forthright approach earns her the credibility of her listeners and readers alike.
Girls Like Us opens with an element of her experience, from the near-present. It's late on a Friday night and Rachel Lloyd is called to a foster care agency to meet a fourteen-year-old girl who has been picked up off the streets.
The author's writing style is energized and contains enough sensory detail to clearly sketch the scene; the reader meets Danielle right along with Rachel, experiences something of the horror and sorrow along with her when she realizes that Danielle is actually eleven-years-old, not fourteen.
But if even Rachel Lloyd, who founded GEMS in 1998, is surprised, the reader will likely find this shocking.
Not only do we tend to think of this as a problem that other countries instigate and perpetuate (thinking across borders, rather than within them), but we don't understand the complexities of the problem either.
(For more about the complexities of the problem, and for a longer response to the work, please visit Buried In Print.)