If there’s one thing we love here at MTV, it’s a celebration. And the best kind of celebration, in our eyes, is one that celebrates an organization that’s doing great work and making a real difference in the world. This week, we were lucky enough to attend the benefit for Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), a friend of the mtvU Against Our Will Campaign.
GEMS helps out girls who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation by providing them with resources, mentorship, and a pathway to becoming a leader. The benefit, held at El Museo del Barrio in New York, highlighted the groundbreaking work that GEMS does. Performances by India.Arie and Shontelle bookended the main event, a series of readings from GEMS founder Rachel Lloyd’s book Girls Like Us; celebrities like Demi Moore and Natasha Lyonne gave voice to Rachel’s stories about her own life as well as the girls she’s worked with over the years. The event closed with survivors who work with GEMS sharing their accomplishments, from getting a college degree to helping get Safe Harbor laws passed (these laws protect victims of sexual exploitation). Needless to say, everyone in the room walked out inspired and ready to do whatever it takes to help end commercial sexual exploitation.
There are a number of ways that you can get involved and stand up against the commercial sexual exploitation of girls, no matter where you are. Here are three ways to learn about the issue and take a stand:
+ Share poetry written by survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.
As part of the Against Our Will Campaign, Alicia Keys, P!nk, and Jada Pinkett Smith read poetry written by girls from GEMS. Watch the affecting spots, hear what the girls have to say about their experiences, and share the videos with your friends.
+ Talk about commercial sexual exploitation with your friends.
Your friends might think that there’s nothing wrong with going to a strip club or dressing up as a pimp for Halloween, but those actions can be linked to the problem of commercial sexual exploitation. Learn how you can address the issue and get out of awkward situations on the Against Our Will site.
+ Take action with GEMS.
Visit GEMS' website for more ways to help end commercial sexual exploitation. There, you can find out about the latest calls to action, find out about trainings and workshops, and support the organization.