Another Dressember in the Books

It is estimated that 4.8 million people are victims of sexual exploitation. This is only a percentage of the 40 million people who suffer through modern slavery worldwide.

According to The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery 2017 report, women make up 71 percent of this population. 

This problem doesn’t only affect other countries; It’s happening in the U.S., as well. In 2018, Massachusetts had 120 reported cases of human trafficking. The country as a whole had 10,949 reported cases.

In 2009, Blythe Hill challenged herself to wear a dress everyday for the month of December. When the trend started catching on with her friends, she realized she could make an impact with her movement. 

For the month of December, women around the world wear a dress everyday to raise awareness for human trafficking. The Dressember Organization uses a dress “as a symbol of freedom and power.”

In December 2013, Hill partnered with the International Justice Mission to raise money for the campaign. When she started, she set a goal to raise $25,000 that month.

“We hit my huge scary goal on the third day of the campaign,” Hill said in her Ted Talk. “I realized I needed to start dreaming bigger because the few girls wearing dresses for fun had become a global community of over 1,200 women in 32 countries who collectively raised over a hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars in a month.”

By visiting the Dressember Organization website, you can join a team and begin fundraising for programs. That’s what Texas A&M University sophomore Katrina Correa has done for two years now.

She is part of Bad Ass Girl Gang, which is a group of more than 40 women who help campaign for Dressember. Correa posts daily on her personal Instagram account to promote and raise awareness. 

“Social media is the easiest way to explain what we’re doing to the masses,” Correa said. “Posting each day is a way to go into detail about what we’re doing without overwhelming anyone.”

Correa finds it “joyful to be aware” of the issues with human trafficking, because she can use that knowledge to help others become aware as well.

“I can’t tell you how often it’s been just in the week we’ve been doing it that all these people are like I love what you’re doing, oh tell me more about this, wanting to learn, and wanting to know,” Correa said. “So, it has actually not been as hard as it has been really cool and really encouraging.”

Fellow Bad Ass Girl Gang member Caroline Gatlin advocates for education about the human trafficking industry.

“Taking the time to [educate] yourself and also educate the people around you creates a community that realizes how bad it is and because they realize that, they want to do something,” Gatlin said. “That education is important because education is what inspires us and other people to fight for change.”

Human trafficking makes around 150 billion dollars a year. To help combat it, avoid shopping fast fashion and purchase from sustainable companies, or shop second hand. 

You can help the Dressember movement by donating on their website. You can also make choices to change your lifestyle. 

“It turns out when thousands of people make a tiny choice to wear a dress together they create huge change, they open closed doors,” Hill explained. “Because of the woman wearing it, a dress can change the world.”

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