I want to start off this story by saying, this is a story coming personally from my heart. I am a young activist women, in high school, who wants to see change happen in the world. A way to initiate change for me is writing about problems and injustices in the world.
There is an injustice happening every single second of the day, it happens here in Minnesota, this great country we call America, and if that isn’t big enough for you; the world. It is called sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or concern, or in which a person is induced to perform such an act that is not eighteen years of age yet.
“Each case varies but there are indeed a variety of factors that are almost always present,” said Aimee Cote a women who worked for the cause to stop sex trafficking. “Many times these girls are living below the poverty line which immediately puts them in an unstable and vulnerable state. Typically they have a low level of education and lack of resources to help them out of the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty. Chemical addiction and mental illness are also common factors.”
Girls can be born or taken as young as five years old, and exposed to the sex trafficking world. Here in the state of Minnesota, we are ranked by the FBI thirteenth largest sex trafficking center of children. The first time I read this, which was last year around Thanksgiving time, I puked in my mouth. What can be done, I asked myself. That is when I found Dressember.
Dressember is a foundation that, at it’s core, embraces the inherent freedom and femininity of all women. For Dressember you are wearing dresses for the thirty-one days of December, super simple, fun and you are raising awareness for women’s rights. This fun, quirky challenge kept on spreading around, making it very popular. Last year, Dressember took on a whole new meaning: “opposing worldwide trafficking and explorations of women.” Joining with International Justice Mission to help raise funds to stop sex trafficking worldwide.
Last year Dressember raised over 165k for IJM. Ordinary people, schools, colleges, universities, etc. Have joined and keep joining Dressember. You can ride solo as an advocate, make a group, or join one. Some advocate group names are: Abby’s Girls, Force for Freedom, Sister Act, Foxy Frocs.
How do we start to raise awareness is a big question that most people ask and the first step is to start having conversations about sex trafficking. With friends, kids in class, teachers, parents, family members, people at church, etc. That is the first step to raising awareness for this cause. You might be timid at first to start a conversation, it might be awkward at first, or the person you’re talking to won’t seem all that interested, but just mentioning it to someone is all that matters. So, we are aware as people.
“We need to be educated and aware in our communities, especially in the communities. Since the victims themselves are often times too emotionally numb or too fearful to come forward,” said Cote. “It is extremely important that community members can see warning signs. Teachers, convenience store attendees, law enforcement members, etc. We all need to be aware and report anything we find suspicious.”
Don’t be afraid to step out and be that advocate for the voiceless. It is not too late to start Dressember, go to thrift stores, look in your closet; we can all find comfortable dresses to wear as our flags. There is always an exception to the rule too, but don’t forget there is much work to be had in ending this injustice. The best we can do in stopping it is having those conversations, writing to the people who have power in our government, get educated about sex trafficking, and most importantly being aware.