Lena Dunham Helps Victims of Sex Trafficking Find Hope

Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here.

Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the non-profit that helps victims of commercial sexual exploitation in New York.

Billy Kidd for Variety
 

“What attracted me so much to the cause is that I’m a feminist and I’m a sexual assault survivor,” says Dunham, the star of HBO’s “Girls.” “I felt that it was important to me to not just call attention to the circumstances (around) which I was assaulted on a college campus, but also to call attention to sexual-abuse survivors who have far less of a public voice.”

Girls Educational & Mentoring Services was started in 1998 by British activist and author Rachel Lloyd. “There hasn’t been enough awareness and education,” says Lloyd. She notes that society often considers these women lazy outcasts instead of helpless victims. Once a low-income teenager falls into the world of sex trafficking, it’s almost impossible to start a new life, but that’s where Gems comes to the rescue. Last year, 371 women and girls sought the organization’s services, which includes counseling, housing, legal help and job coaching.

“There are so many girls, particularly in urban areas, who are born to parents who may be drug addicted and violent,” Dunham says. “These pimps are waiting at the bus to tell these girls, ‘You seem amazing. I love you and want to be your boyfriend.’ What feels like a loving relationship turns into them being forced to go out and make a living. What’s happening is rape. It’s statutory rape by the most basic definition.”

Dunham has been working with Lloyd to build a library for Gems.

“This is an important organization,” Dunham says.

Lloyd is grateful for Dunham’s voice. “It’s helpful because she has a platform,” Lloyd says. “Our young women, while traumatized and abused, have incredible potential.”

More Film

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • Hannah Marks Liana Liberato

    Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato to Star in High School Comedy 'Banana Split'

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • NOR_D01_053017_9621_R2 – L-R: Tom Hanks (Ben

    Steven Spielberg's 'The Post' to Open Palm Springs Film Festival

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

  • Willa Fitzgerald

    'The Goldfinch' Movie Adaptation Casts Willa Fitzgerald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lena Dunham is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here. Lena Dunham wasn’t aware of the horrors of sex trafficking until recently. But from the moment she heard about Gems from her friend Audrey Gelman, Dunham knew she wanted to shine a spotlight on the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content