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Young Women's Empowerment Project (YWEP) recently released their findings from a participatory action research project entitled, , "Girls do what they have to do to survive: Illuminating Methods used by Girls in the Sex Trade and Street Economy to Fight Back and Heal." YWEP is a youth leadership organization grounded in harm reduction and social justice organizing by and for girls and young women (ages 12-23) impacted by the sex trade and street economies, and is run by girls and women with life experience in the sex trade and street economies. YWEP members were interviewed about their research by Chicago Public Radio program, Eight Forty-Eight, who posted a podcast of the interview.
In the interview, co-director, Shira Hassan, discusses the way in which YWEP frames the sex trade and street economies,
We use the term sex trade as an umbrella term, and the umbrella term is to really pull all the experiences of what girls are doing to survive all the time, everyday. And so we use it to mean any way that girls are trading sex or sexuality, or forced to trade sex or sexuality, for anything like money, gifts, survival needs, documentation, places to stay, drugs, you know, it gets really complicated and varied. We are also for girls who are involved in the street economy. We make those distinctions just because they connect so clearly. We define the street economy as anything that you do for cash that's not taxed. Whether that's hair braiding, whether that's selling CD's on the corner, whether that's an elaborate con, right? Something that you're gonna do that's gonna get you money that isn't reportable. Both of these methods are ways that girls have found to survive when they're street-based.