Very Young Girls David Schisgall

Very Young Girls David Schisgall
Very Young Girls is a disturbing documentary about teenage prostitution in New York City, where the average age of a prostitute is 13 years old. The first half of the film features girls telling their own stories of how they got into the life. The girls in this film are not empowered sex workers who knowingly chose the profession. Their stories all highlight the manipulation techniques used by pimps, who find vulnerable girls on the street and become a lover or father figure in order to convince them to sell themselves, then use isolation, violence and drugs to keep them dependent and working.

Alongside the girls’ stories are clips from a home movie shot by two pimps illustrating firsthand the luring and treatment of girls. These idiots were very misguidedly, hoping to parlay the footage into a cable TV show, which instead was used to convict them.

The second half of the film focuses on a program called GEMS (Girls’ Educational and Mentoring Services) that offers counselling, housing and support to girls trying to transition out of prostitution. It’s staffed and founded by people who have successfully left the life and now spend tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to help girls escape similar situations.

The film’s subject matter is very compelling; it captures the girls’ experiences best by letting them tell them in their own words, which are full of humour and hope despite what they’ve been through.

Very Young Girls tells a lot of stories, and in trying to cram so much in it comes off as slightly unfocused, with some things introduced but not followed up on. However, it makes its point about how these girls are exploited by predators and offers some visions of hope in the bleakness by highlighting the GEMS program. (Swinging T)