Students who have pledged to take part in Dressember 2018 with Lighthouse CUNE, the campus’ IJM chapter. Photo by Madison Pitsch.
By Madison Pitsch
December will be getting a bit of a makeover thanks to Concordia’s International Justice Mission branch, Lighthouse CUNE. Lighthouse will be hosting Dressember, a month of wearing one dress each day to bring awareness to human trafficking.
“When you wear a dress for every single day in December, people ask you, ‘Hey, it’s a little chilly outside, why are you wearing a dress?,” said Sarah Van Duser, the president of Lighthouse CUNE. “You open up an easy opportunity to tell them about human trafficking and raise awareness for it.”
The event isn’t just for women either. Men are also invited to dress up and bring awareness. Dressember started in 2013 and raised over $2 million last year.
While human trafficking might seem unfamiliar and a bit antiquated, it is increasingly prevalent in societies around the world. According to PolarisProject.org, in 2017 there were 7,255 victims of sex trafficking; 1,979 victims of labor trafficking; 542 victims of sex and labor trafficking; and 838 non-specific victims.
International Justice Mission’s website, ijm.org, states that currently there are more than 40 million slaves globally, more than ever in human history. It also shares that human trafficking annually generates $150 billion and that 1 in 4 victims of forced labor is a child. Humantraffickinghotline.org says that there have been 40,200 reported cases of human trafficking since 2007.
Nebraska’s Interstate Highway 80 is a common travel route for human traffickers.
“It is so empty on the other side (western part) of the state that it is easy for people to just take people straight across the state. And there’s more to human trafficking than just sex trafficking. There’s also property grabbing and forced labor laws,” Van Duser said.
Dressember is one of the main events at Concordia hosted by Lighthouse. Other events include Freedom Frappe Friday at 10:31 Coffee Shop and a meet up on Nov. 30 in Lincoln with other Dressember participants.
“Dressember is an absolute blast, but also at the core, we can’t just focus on the ‘yay. fun it’s a pretty dress!’ We have to remember that we’re fighting for a cause,” Lighthouse member Makayla Kosberg said. “Human trafficking is ugly. But our (doing) something is better than doing nothing at all. The awareness, support, the action, the prayers–all matter.”
To join Dressember, go to dressember.org and register to be part of the team. Contact Sarah Van Duser, Kirsten Wagner, Beatrice Lala, Julia O’Laughlin, Makayla Kosberg or Chelsea Willard to learn more about Lighthouse and participate in Dressember.
“Just get involved. If you feel moved and drawn to fight human trafficking, do something about it,” Van Duser said. “ No matter what you’re doing, it’s not too little, and we need people involved.”