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Prostitute rescue group honored

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Scarborough was scheduled to honor the Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, which helps 12- to 21-year-old women who were sexually abused and forced to work as prostitutes in New York City, during his Annual Friends of Bill Scarborough Dinner on March 28.In light of the recent media attention on prostitution triggered by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's alleged connection to a high-priced sex ring, the assemblyman praised the organization for focusing on the women who are victimized by such groups."GEMS is the only community-based organization in the state of New York dedicated to serving the needs of sexually exploited youth and helping them reclaim lives that would otherwise be lost," he said in a statement.The organization provides support to the women and girls, many of whom are from southeast Queens, according to Scarborough, through peer counseling, employment training, substance abuse rehabilitation and more. Since its inception in 1998, GEMS has helped hundreds of prostitutes regain their lives.It was founded by Rachel Lloyd, a former English prostitute who began working street corners at 13 to support her alcoholic mother, the assemblyman said. After years of drugs, violence and sex, Lloyd turned her life around after moving to Germany, where a church congregation took her under its wing and helped her get an education and a job.She eventually moved to the United States, where she not only started GEMS but also earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in urban anthropology."Rachel Lloyd and GEMS have rescued countless young victims from southeast Queens off the streets and set them on a new course to becoming productive citizens," Scarborough said.Between 100,000 and 3 million adolescents are involved in prostitution annually in America, according to the Justice Department. Nearly 90 percent of women involved in prostitution were sexually abused as children, according to the assemblyman.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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