With the popularity of reality shows like “America’s Next Top Model,” “Bad Girls Club” and its spinoff, “Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too,” we shouldn’t wonder why our daughters are impressed by men who pose as model scouts. The impersonators walk through malls and across college campuses, leaving our daughters smitten when they tell them they’re beautiful. He presents them with a portfolio of pictures, ladies he’s “represented,” and promises to make them the next big star. The only problem is, he’s a pimp recruiting his next victim.
“This can happen to any girl,” offers Lisa Williams, the executive director of Living Water for Girls, a nonprofit organization that cares for victims of sexual exploitation ages 12–17. “They [pimps and traffickers] have business cards with the logos that they have taken from the website of agencies like Ford and other top modeling agencies.”
The real photographers, who they’re impersonating, are credited for photos in popular magazines and on Web sites, but there’s no picture to accompany the name so the young girl is convinced that he is in fact who he claims to be when they go online to research and see the photographer’s name.
Williams continues, “The girls are from poor, middle income and affluent families. Many of our girls, up to 85 percent in the studies, have been victimized in their home, which means that they are easy prey for a pimp. There’s no discrimination on sexual abuse.”
Williams was spurred to start the non-profit organization after reading an article in the AJC in 2007 and the corresponding picture left her “outraged.”
“She [the victim] was sitting [wearing] a jumpsuit with shackles around her ankles. She was age 10 and being charged with prostitution.” Williams contemplated on this fact: ‘How much longer will we permit this abuse and conspiracy to rape our daughters?’
She continues, “The john … pimp or trafficker wasn’t being charged. I had to do something.”
The organization is currently in need of donors to participate in its $10 for ‘10 campaign. “We believe most people can find $10. We’re looking for 10,000 people to donate $10 per month during 2010. It will sustain us from this year until 2012. Then we don’t have to turn away any girls,” she pleads.
Living Water for Girls cares for up to 10 girls at one time and offers home school, traditional therapy and nontraditional therapy through vocational training, art, gardening and equine therapy.—yvette caslin