Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)
Con to the question "Should Prostitution Be Legal?"
"The argument that legalizing prostitution makes it safer for women just hasn’t been borne out in countries implementing full legalization. In fact, legalization has spurred traffickers to recruit children and marginalized women to meet demand. Amsterdam, long touted as the model, recently started recognizing rates of trafficking into the country have increased and is beginning to address the enormous hub of trafficking and exploitation that it's created.
Criminalizing women and girls in commercial sex -- who are overwhelmingly victims of violence -- is not the solution, but neither is legalization. Focusing criminal justice resources on traffickers and buyers is a promising step, as is providing services, support and authentic options to women being bought and ensuring children and youth are treated as victims, a step taken by New York’s groundbreaking Safe Harbor Act in 2008.
To truly address trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, it’s critical to address the systemic factors making girls and women so vulnerable -- poverty, gender inequity, racism, classism, child sexual abuse, lack of educational and employment opportunities for women and girls globally. Sanctioning an industry that preys upon some of the most marginalized and disenfranchised individuals in our society isn’t the answer."
"Legality Leads to More Trafficking," NYTimes.com, Apr. 19, 2012
Experts Individuals with MDs, JDs, PhDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to the study of prostitution. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to prostitution issues.
Involvement and Affiliations:
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), New York, NY, 1998-present
Recipient, Ashoka Fellowship, 2009
Recipient, Reebok Human Rights Award
Recipient, Child Advocacy Award, Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)
Recipient, Community Service Award, New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators
Recipient, Frederick Douglass Award, North Star Fund
Recipient, Susan B. Anthony Award, National Organization for Women
Recipient, Community Service Award, Soroptimist International, NY
Recipient, Prime Movers Fellowship
Recipient, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution Award
Recipient, Heroes for Youth Award, National Safe Place
Recipient, Social Entrepreneurship Award, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Featured in the documentary Very Young Girls, Showtime, 2007
Profiled/interviewed on Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN), ABC News, NBC News, National Public Radio (NPR), National Geographic Channel, Access Hollywood, and by the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post, Variety, Essence, Glamour, New York Magazine, Village Voice, Marie Claire, and other media outlets
MA, Applied Urban Anthropology, City College of New York
BA, Psychology, Marymount Manhattan College
Named by Ms. Magazine as "One of 50 Women Who Change the World"
Named by the New York Daily News as one of "100 Women Who Shape New York"
Named "New Yorker of the Week" by NY1
Named a "Notable New Yorker" by CBS TV
Public speaking engagements include the United Nations, New York University, Columbia University, Wheelock College, City University of New York (CUNY) Honors College, Washburn University, Brooklyn Museum, Library of Congress, Miami International Film Festival, Jackson Hole Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, WMCA National Conference 2009, First International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth in Victoria, BC (Canada), International Young People’s Participation Project (Philippines), National Children’s Advocacy Center Conference, Project Safe Childhood Conference, and National Conference on Juvenile Justice
"As a teenager, I worked in Germany’s legal sex industry. I was, like many girls in the club, underage; most of us were immigrants, nearly all of us had histories of trauma and abuse prior to our entry into commercial sex. Several of us had pimps despite working in a legal establishment; all of us used copious amounts of drugs and alcohol to get through each night." "Legality Leads to More Trafficking," NYTimes.com, Apr. 19, 2012