Rachel Lloyd

Rachel Lloyd has been nominated to become the WCP Decade Child Rights Hero 2020, for her work spanning over 20 years to tackle domestic trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, CSEC, in the US.

Rachel is a survivor of mental and physical abuse during her childhood in the United Kingdom, and was exploited in the sex industry as a teenager in Germany. At the age of 22, Rachel moved to the USA and was shocked to see girls as young as 12 being sold on the streets of New York City.


Every year, tens of thousands of children in the USA, including girls as young as 12, are forced to sell sex. Most of them have grown up in poverty and are non­white. Some have run away from home after being abused, or have come to the USA as refugees.


Rachel and GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) support 400 girls and young women every year by providing secure accommodation, help in getting an educa­tion and a job, counseling, legal support and love. Survivors of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are trained as leaders to help others. Some 1,500 young women are sup­ ported with preventive initia­tives, and over 1,300 adults including social workers and police officers are trained about the commercial sexual exploita­tion of children and girls’ rights.


Since 1998, the lives of thou­ sands of girls have been changed through the movement started by Rachel, in which survivors lead change. Millions of Americans have been reached by campaigns to raise awareness about those affected, and to combat prejudice. Rachel has been responsible for the creation of more child­friendly laws and systems, including New York’s The Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act, the first law in the USA giving children who have been forced to sell sex the right to protection, instead of punish­ing them.


Goal 3: Good health and well-being. Goal 4: Quality education. Goal 5: Gender equality. Goal 8: Decent work. Goal 16: A stop to violence and abuse, sexual exploitation of children and trafficking.

Several of the girls and young women featured in the stories about Rachel and GEMS have had their names changed and their ages excluded, in order to protect their identities. Please also note that the texts are taken from when the Child Rights Hero was an award recipient. The children featured in the texts are therefore older today.

Photo: Joseph Rodriguez

These stories were written in 2015, so today the children are older, and some facts and figures may have changed.


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