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How a dress can change the world

author: orisha greschner  news editor

time for dress up/ jeremy davis

A style challenge to end human trafficking

Human trafficking is present in almost every city in the world. It is estimated that there are currently more than 30 million victims of slavery worldwide; of that, 25 per cent are children, and 75 per cent are women and girls.

Slavery can take many different faces, from forced labour in the garment industry to exploitation in the global commercial sex trade, the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Humans, people, women, are still being bought and sold like products. An idea thought by many to be one of the past.

In 2009, as a response to learning about the modern issue, Blythe Hill challenged herself to wear a dress every day of December to raise awareness. By 2013, the movement blossomed into an international campaign to aid the fight against sex trafficking.

Now, every year, thousands of advocates around the world take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie during the 31 days of December.

The funds raised by the movement each year are used by partners, including the International Justice Mission and the New Abolitionists, to rescue victims, build stronger legal cases for court, and help restore the lives of survivors. But why a dress?

“The dress or tie serves as the conversation starter to educate your community about modern slavery,” says Blythe Hill. “[It’s] our uniform, the flag of our movement. Dressember is an opportunity to reclaim and reappropriate the dress as a symbol of freedom and power; a flag for the inherent dignity of all people.”

Abbie Tratch, a student from the University of Saskatchewan, said, “Wearing a dress every day can be a challenge, especially for cold Saskatchewan winters. However, it has made me realize the privilege I have to be able to go home and become comfortable by putting on sweats when there are people elsewhere being abused, sold and stolen from their homes.”

Mira Cappello, a University of Regina student, adds, “When people ask you why you are wearing a dress in -40 weather you have the perfect opportunity to advocate for the cause.”

Some easy ways for you to become involved in the movement this December include pledging to wear a dress or tie every day of month, creating an online campaign page, committing to learn more about modern-day slavery, posting about it on social media, and finding fun ways to fundraise. For example, having a bake sale, clothing swap or going door to door.

A very popular means of raising awareness for the campaign has been women posting pictures on Instagram of them doing all sorts of activities in a dress using the hashtag #youcandoanythinginadress.

University of Regina student Basi Kay exclaims, “Dressember is such an engaging way to raise awareness for one of the most underground injustices. It is so amazing that we are presented with the opportunity to make such a difference through such fun and comparatively easy means. I truly encourage everyone to participate, even if it is only just for one day!”

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