15 Times a Night

4 05 2011

Jamaine Smith, Arts in Transformation Concentration, Eastern University M.A, in Urban Studies

15 Times A Nght by Jamaine Smith

Pencil, Prismacolor Pencil, Marker, and Charcoal

Topic Abstract
15 Minutes A Night is a social commentary piece created to bring awareness to sexual abuse experienced by adolescent girls forced into prostitution and sex trafficking in urban communities, particularly those in Brooklyn, NY. These girls can be forced to engage in sexual intercourse with anywhere from five, fifteen, or more johns a night in order to meet quotas of $500 or more (Zraick, 2010). The piece was created to show the sheer horror, pain, and displeasure experienced by these girls on a daily basis. It is created to spark questions and dialogue: “What is ’15 Minutes a Night’? “Is he raping her!?” The goal of the piece is to bring awareness to the fact that such acts are occurring right within urban communities and is not just a “other” problem (other countries, other states, other communities). The piece can be accompanied by an informative sheet explaining its intention.

I chose the topic of the prostitution/sex-trafficking of adolescent girls with a special focus on communities in Brooklyn, NY because many of the residents of this community do not realize such horrible crimes occur so close to home. From personal experience, one can easily obtain an “other” mentality, or continually think that sex-trafficking/child prostitution occurs in “other” countries, or if in the united states, within “other” communities. In June 2010, eight people were charged with sex-trafficking and forcing 15-17 year old girls into prostitution right in my neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn as well as the neighboring community of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Of one of the eight people, New York Times reporter Karen Zraick (2010) reports “Prosecutors say Abking Wilcox, 30, recruited women and girls as young as 15 into prostitution  from schools in Bushwick and Brownsville from 2007 to 2009”  (para. 8).

Tony Best (2010), of the Brooklyn based Carib News newspaper reports that girls from the Caribbean, Russia, Germany, Latin America, and China are targeted by gangs including the Crips, Bloods, and Latin Kings. These girls are either beaten, threatened, or forced into prostitution by gang members who get into romantic relationships with girls with the intent to force them into prostitution. Promises of cash and a lavish lifestyle are made to these girls, many who are from low-income families. So far, there seems to be only one community leader, Mr. Charles Hynes, Brooklyn’s District Attorney, who is working to bring awareness to the issue of sex-trafficking and prostitution of adolescent girls (Best, 2010). Increased awareness and more information must be disseminated to the community, especially the young girls who are the target of sex-traffickers and pimps. “15 Times A Night” was created to do just that.

I desired the piece to be raw, organic, and shocking at best. I desire to capture the pain, horror, and complete displeasure a girl engaged in a sexual act with an other man. The girl in the piece is done in pencil, with different shades of skin tones covering most of her body. This represents the different nationalities and races of girls involved in prostitution and sex-trafficking. Also, the girl is not completely colored in because I feel as if there has not been enough awareness given to such girls and they are thus nearly as humanized as they could be. Prayerfully, such pieces such as this will allow that to occur. The man’s face and other features in the drawing were intentionally left blank and undefined because the “johns”, or men who purchase sex from teens girls are rarely ever identified. In addition, in order to disconnect from what his happening to them, many girls block out such features. The girl and man are surrounded by purple, the color of royalty, to show the blatant disrespect and violation of the girl’s innate worth, innocence, and childhood. In addition, purple was the favorite color of many of my childhood, female friends.

Intended Audience
The intended audience for this piece are adults, teens, parents, educators, community leaders-anyone who has eyes to see. This issue is occurring literally in our own backyards and everyone must be made aware of it. This piece is designed to spark dialogue and can used in campaigns to bring awareness to the terrible act of teen prostitution and sex-trafficking. My utmost desire for placement is in local high schools, as it is the teen girls, their friends, parents, and educators who need to know what is occurring within their neighborhood. These girls are the target, thus information must be given to them in order to avoid falling into traps laid by gang members and pimps to get them into prostitution. The piece can also be displayed in local businesses, subway stations, etc.

Challenges faced creating this piece were dealing with my own emotions. The expression on the girl’s face is haunting and brought to life the plight of teen girls I may walk past on the street. I also had to get over the fact that the piece did not come out as I would have liked it, but I feel it is effective nonetheless.


Best, T. (2010, Nov. 3).  Excerpts from the Ethnic Press: Sex-Trafficking Victims. The New York  Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/nyregion/28world.html

Zraick, K. (2010, June 2). 8 Charged in Brooklyn Sex-Trafficking Case. The New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/nyregion/03sextraffic.html




One response

4 05 2011
Barbara Price Davis


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