Dressember and human trafficking in our own backyard


Photo courtesy of Scardino

Dusty Hartl, Opinions Editor

In our society today, we often ignore the idea of human trafficking or we brush off the idea that this could still exist. It exists alright, and it is happening in our own backyard.

DoSomething.org, a human trafficking awareness website, says that “trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.”

As someone who knows very little on the topic of human trafficking, I had to enlist the help of a friend who is participating in “Dressember.” Dressember is a way to raise awareness for human trafficking by wearing a dress every day of December to help raise money and awareness. This closely reflects the idea of “No Shave November.”

Alexandra Scardino, junior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is participating in Dressember. She has vowed to wear the same dress every day this month as a sign of solidarity with those who have become a victim of human trafficking.

Scardino’s commitment to Dressember stemmed from previous experiences.  “I lived in the Wisconsin Dells this summer and that is a city that is prominent in sex trafficking,” she said.  “I learned about the movement from different people that I met there that were previously involved in advocating through Dressember.”

According to the United States State Department, “600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80 percent are female and half are children.”

This is a much larger problem than I ever expected. I wanted to know more on what others on campus are doing to help fight for this cause and how Scardino is promoting this endeavour.

“There are other people on campus participating in Dressember. I take pictures and post them on social media with facts about human trafficking everyday. I put a link out there too that are for two charities.” She goes on to say, “one of them is IJM, International Justice Mission, and the other is A21, a nonprofit organization that wants to end human trafficking.”

Of course, this is something men can get involved with as well. Scardino says, “They wear a bowtie everyday instead of a dress.”

Dressember is a way to help raise money to help eradicate human trafficking. Scardino has created a donation page that allows individuals the opportunity to support her without feeling the need to participate.

Human trafficking is often brushed off as something that happens elsewhere but could never happen here. That could not be further from the truth because in the Wisconsin Dells reports, “human trafficking does exist in Wisconsin and is most reported in areas that are highly populated or have a significant tourist or visitor population. A lack of adequate services for victims of human trafficking exists throughout the state including housing, healthcare and advocacy.”

I believe that many people feel as though this is something we will never encounter. That is in fact false, and it is important that we educate ourselves on this important issue that some might be subject to.

“I want more people to be aware that it exists.” Scardino said.  ”I think that is the biggest reason I am doing it. In America, it seems it is tucked under the rug and many do not know it even exists here. I know there is a student organization on campus, but I would like to see it spoken about in new student seminar classes or a diversity class. It is something everyone should be aware of and it will not stop unless we talk about it.”

Human trafficking exists, and we have to start acting like it does. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and hope someone does something.

People like Scardino are leading the way on college campuses, raising awareness and advocating for those who need our help. Please consider donating and sharing the stories of those trying to help because a conversation should be started and where better to start that conversation than on college campuses around the world.