Girls Likes Us — Rachel Lloyd’s Memoir Illuminates the Sexual Exploitation of Children
Huff Post – Impact
by Marcia G. Yerman
The first time I heard Rachel Lloyd speak was in 2005, the year of the 70th Annual Academy Awards. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” had won for the best song of the year. Whenever I complained about that song being showcased, people would tell me to “lighten up.” Yet when Lloyd stepped up to address the issue of human trafficking, she brought up that song, and the disconnect between reality and what the Hollywood version of life on the street entails.
Since then, while covering the topic of human trafficking, I have seen Lloyd talk at numerous events and panels. I have called her up for quotes and insights, such as the time football star Lawrence Taylor was arrested. I had needed to get a lucid response on why the media was portraying an under-age trafficked girl as a “hooker.”
Lloyd always speaks the truth to power. It may be to a New York City police commissioner, or a Manhattan audience learning for the first time that 13-year-old African-American girls in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn are being bought and sold. Lloyd frequently notes that they are part of an estimated 200,000-300,000 adolescents who are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation in the United States annually.
Consequently, it was no surprise to me that the memoir Lloyd had penned, Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself, would be a tough, gritty and brutally honest account. Lloyd traces how a difficult childhood led to a hair-raising journey that encompassed risk, recruitment, and violent abuse–to breaking free from sexual exploitation…and ultimately healing. She now is a top activist in the anti-trafficking movement.
Finding her purpose in working with girls “in the life,” Lloyd connects to those in crisis based on shared experiences, understanding without judgment, and respect. Founding Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in 1998, Lloyd went back to school to attain her GED, going on to receive a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Marymount Manhattan College and a Masters in Applied Urban Anthropology from the City College of New York. She has racked up numerous awards for her work, all while “owning her experience.”