With human trafficking being such an issue in the United States and around the world, it is important that we don't ignore it and find ways to raise awareness. Read on to hear about human trafficking and Dressember from Biola's own, Alissa Shepardson.

Q: What is Dressember?

A: The Dressember Foundation is an anti-trafficking organization and the Dressember "challenge" is a month-long campaign where women wear dresses (and men who want to participate wear ties). The foundation is aligned with A21 and International Justice Mission (IJM), which are our international partners, as well as McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which is our first US grant partner. By participating in the challenge, thousands of advocates are raising awareness and funds to combat the injustice of modern-day slavery.

Q: How did you get involved?

A: My boyfriend's cousin, Blythe Hill, is the founder of the Dressember Foundation; also, his sister Mckenna Jones is also an intern for the foundation and she was the one who originally got me involved by asking me to participate in Dressember last year.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for Biola students to get involved?

A: Awareness about human trafficking is extremely low and we cannot do justice if we do not see injustice. We cannot love mercy if we ignore those who need it. And we cannot walk humbly if we are too proud to have our hearts broken for others. Biola students need to be involved because trafficking is happening in every city in the world, it is in our backyard and there is something that we can do about it. Biola students need to realize that it is biblical to help the needy and the victims of trafficking are in desperate need. Students can go to the Dressember website for more information and are more than welcome to join my team!

Q: What do you want people to know about human trafficking?

A: There are roughly 46 million people enslaved today, a majority of which are women and children but men are trafficked at alarming rates as well. The heartbreaking fact is that although there is no specific demographic and all ages and genders are trafficked, the average age of people who are enslaved is 11-14 years old. Children who are runaways, foster kids, or homeless are the highest at-risk group to be lured into trafficking and over 30% of runaways will be recruited by a trafficker within 48 hours.

Q: If someone doesn’t want to commit to the entire month of December, what are other ways they can raise awareness?

A: Dressember recognizes that there are conflicts and many reasons to not wear a dress but we also recognize a really great reason to do it! If someone just won't be a part of Dressember, it is okay, there are many other ways to get involved (but it might not be as simple, fun, or personal as Dressember)! Some things you can do are as follows:

  • Start small: learn about the tragic and unjust reality of trafficking and talk about it because people need to know what is happening.
  • Shop ethically: when you see that a big part of trafficking is the forced labor of the fashion industry, it might make you take a look at who and how your purchases are being made. Keep an eye out for Fair Trade goods!
  • Dive deeper: if you have the means, donate to an anti-trafficking organization such as Dressember or any of its partners.
  • Take another look: if you are looking, you will find that there are lots of organizations, movements, and groups against trafficking but when you are looking into them think about how much money, effort, and time you are willing to sacrifice. If your heart has been broken and you are passionate about making a change one month of wearing dresses or ties is not a big sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.

be the change,