From left to right: Kyle – Bookkeeper, Josie – Advocacy Support, and Domenique – Community Advocate
In support of Dressember, we as an agency of advocates committed to ending human trafficking, the global sex trade, and slavery worldwide have decided to participate in this movement to stop human trafficking. “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. And trust us, it makes a statement. The dress or tie serves as the conversation starter to educate your community about modern slavery.”1
Given the fact that prevention education is one of our most important missions, this event aligns perfectly with our agency. Dressember participants help spread awareness about a world issue by committing to the challenge of wearing dresses or ties all month and those who participate spread the word about what they’re doing and why.
Our team was created in dedication to our Sex Trafficking Response & Awareness Program of Washington (STRAPWA). So, what exactly is sex trafficking? Sex trafficking, also referred to as human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic sex trafficking, sex work, the “life,” dating, and prostitution, is the exchange of sex or a sex act (exotic dancing/stripping, pornography, web camming, nude massage, etc.) for a valuable (such as money, protection, shelter, or food). The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act states that it is “illegal to recruit, entice, obtain, provide, solicit, patronize, move, or harbor a person or to benefit from such activities knowing that the person will be caused to engage in commercial sex acts where the person is under 18 or where force, fraud, or coercion exists.”
Because traffickers are predators, they seek out individuals who are already vulnerable, including children, homeless youths and runaways, individuals who are marginalized (persons of color, those identifying as LGBTQ+, those experiencing poverty, etc.), and those who have a prior history of sexual abuse/trauma.
Because of the very nature of sex trafficking, it is nearly impossible to present accurate statistics on how many people are currently trapped in the commercial sex trade. However, the US Institute Against Human Trafficking estimates that the number could be close to one million. 2 In 2001, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that anywhere from 100,000 to almost 300,000 children are victims of sexual exploitation annually. 3
And the problem is only getting worse.
If you’d like to participate, you can join our team in solidarity at the following link:
- “The dress is 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.” —Dressember Website ↵
- US Institute Against Human Trafficking (2017). The Problem: Human trafficking in the United States. Retrieved from http://usiaht.org/the-problem/ on January 27, 2017. ↵
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2015). Annual Report. ↵