On Wednesday August 6, the Amara Legal Center hosted a film screening specifically for young people interning in DC for the summer. Though these interns, like myself, have reaped the benefits of living in this city for the summer by visiting the myriad sites important to our national history, touring the Newseum and Smithsonian, participating in water sports on the Potomac, and indulging in the food and drinks that neighborhoods like Adam’s Morgan, Penn Quarter, and Dupont have to offer, they likely did not have to face some of the more serious realities that exist in our city, such as the exploitation of DC youth through commercial sex.

Given that this problem is an issue that thrives beyond society’s gaze, raising awareness is a critical first step in combating domestic sex trafficking. The Amara Legal Center specifically wanted to teach interns about sex trafficking so that they could spread awareness to their college campuses upon returning to school in the weeks ahead.

To teach this demographic about the issue, we screened “Very Young Girls,” a documentary created by Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) that depicts the struggles of young girls born, raised, and exploited in New York City. The film investigates critical issues such as the mental health effects of child sex trafficking, the failure of our legal system to adequately combat it, and the need for improving direct service provision for survivors.

This film brought many of us at Amara and our fellow audience members to tears and generated a very compelling Q&A session afterwards. We discussed law enforcement’s role, the effectiveness of Safe Harbor laws, the concept of legalizing prostitution, the need to equip first responders with an anti-trafficking lens, and the need for more community-based and survivor-led direct service programs.

Overall, this event was a huge success, and we thank all of the interns and other community members who participated. We would like to extend a special thank you to DC Stop Modern Slavery for partnering with us for the event and for making us one of the beneficiaries of their 2014 WalkFest taking place on October 4th.

We invite anyone interested in raising awareness about human trafficking and supporting Amara’s work to join our Amara walk team!

Please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/313279728796919/ for more information.
You also register directly on the website at http://www.firstgiving.com/team/273028.

By Bridget Morrison