By: Callie Corley
By now, many of you have probably seen the new “Fearless Girl” statue in New York City, staring down Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull. The statue, unveiled last week on International Women’s Day, is a piece of public art commissioned by investment firm State Street Global Advisors and created by artist Kristen Visbal.
This statue has a powerful effect on me. I’m proud of what she stands for, even if it’s more of a PR stunt than statement piece. I’m inspired by her strength, and I’m humbled by her bravery.
However, even our “Fearless Girl” has to fight ignorance and immorality — and for this I’m thankful she doesn’t have the ability to feel. A few days after the statue’s unveiling, a passerby captured a photo of a grown man sexually accosting the young girl.
The harsh reality is that sexual exploitation of children is more common than anyone wants to believe. At least 100 children, mostly girls, are bought and sold for sex every night in Atlanta. If a child runs away from home, oftentimes fleeing abuse, within 48 hours of leaving home at least one third of those children will be approached by someone offering to help them get off the streets and out of poverty by selling their bodies.
If we want to make the world a better place for our children, we have to start taking actions with our children in mind.
The Junior League of Atlanta has dedicated the entirety of its 100 year history to speaking out on behalf of women and children in situations where they often remain voiceless. JLA tracks policy initiatives and advocates on policies that improve the lives of women and children at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and poverty.
Too many of our children are being abused and exploited right here in our own neighborhoods. However, Atlanta is perfectly positioned to help change the tide.
According to this month’s Fortune magazine, more than 36 percent of adults in Atlanta over the age of 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree. That’s higher than the U.S. average. Businesses and corporations are flocking to Atlanta which is now the ninth largest metro region in the country. By 2040, metro Atlanta’s GDP is expected to almost double from its current $295 billion.
Our economy is expanding and our residents are getting smarter. Let’s continue to use this momentum for good. Businesses should make it clear that buying sex, especially with children, won’t be tolerated by employees. Residents should fearlessly stand up and demand resources be allocated to the policing and prosecution of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
“Fearless Girl” should not be seen as merely pop art. In honor of Women’s History Month, the statue should serve as a challenge to all of us, to stare down the injustices that put women and children at risk, and to inspire the next generation to indeed be fearless.