Thirteen years old. That’s the average age of first incidence for child exploitation among girls. There are even scarier numbers out there: close to 7,200 men are both knowingly and unknowingly purchasing sex from adolescent girls each month in the state of Georgia.
There are many more alarming statistics out there that are a result of the worldwide epidemic known as human sex trafficking. They are what led award-winning filmmaker Shandra McDonald-Bradford to develop a web series that brings awareness to the issue. “The Internet is ground zero for this epidemic, and we want girls, we want pimps, we want people to come across it in a television format,” she says. <i>Hands Off This Girl</i> is a new web series that broadcasts the voice of victims in the sex trafficking system.
The story highlights the struggles of families, friends and law enforcement officers as they combat sex trafficking and attempt to save the lives of girls involved before it’s too late. Along with former Soul Food series writer Kevin Collins, real life sex trafficking victims are collaborating to create scenarios for the weekly series. “We plan to create characters around folks who are already out there, fighting the fight everyday,” Shandra notes. The series, which begins production this fall, has been coined as “edutainment,” as it will not only entertain viewers, but open their eyes and force them to learn more about a world they cannot fathom. Ultimately, the goal is for the series to reach people of all backgrounds with hopes that awareness is aroused and encourage communities across the world to take a stand.
Jada Pinkett-Smith is one activist who is already knee-deep in the war against sex trafficking. The self-proclaimed “twenty-first-century abolitionist” speaks in depth about her mission to end sex slavery around the world in the September issue of ESSENCE magazine. She has already taken her concerns to the nation’s capital, where she attended a congressional press briefing on domestic trafficking and testified before the Senate. With major forces in Hollywood like Jada and Shandra bringing awareness to this horrific epidemic, the voices of so many girls will not be lost in a world that should never have been their own.
Pick up the latest issue to learn more about what you can do to join the fight.
The woman in this photo is a model and is in no way associated with the subject matter of the piece.