This post is written by Noor, a Muslim High School student that participated in Dressember.
What would it look like if Muslims and Christians combined their efforts to end human trafficking? Our joint struggle can truly mean something to the men and women who are unable to fight, which is all the more reason for us to all take a stand, together.
Human Trafficking: (n.) the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Many people in the US believe that human trafficking is a distant issue. But it isn’t. Human trafficking is conducted all around us, everyday, but we simply aren’t trained to notice it.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), California alone has had a total of 711 reported cases of human trafficking or modern slavery, and 3,827 cases in the past nine years. Let alone the global numbers.
I had learned about these things, but how could I actively lend a hand to end this? Enter Dressember.
Throughout the month of December, my friends and I wore dresses every day as a statement against human trafficking.
Although my first response to those who asked me what I was doing was the standard answer, I began to realize there was a deeper meaning. Allow me to explain:
- The “Dress” that is central to Dressember had been ethically made in Nepal by women who were rescued from human trafficking and offered a job as a seamstress for reasonable pay. I found out that there were several Muslim and Christian companies who focus on selling products made by those rescued from slavery and those at risk to be trafficked. I was pleased to find that many of the different clothing companies I typically purchase supported the same causes I advocated for by guaranteeing Fair Trade products and a number supported charities.
- Another topic I learned about is something called ‘rape culture.’ This speaks to the argument that a woman had deserved to be raped because of “what she was wearing,” regardless if the girl was wearing a head-to-toe garb or a pair of shorts. Often this argument leaves the perpetrator without any penalty for his actions as the blame is put on the victim. This bothered me, and I saw an opportunity to speak out against this. By participating in Dressember, I was actively helping to restore the dignity women had lost in certain areas as I helped educate however small a crowd of people about my motives.
I found out that both Muslims and Christians deeply care about this issue. Rebekah, a devout Christian and junior in High School describes that her religion inspires her to advocate for women everywhere, saying that “We believe that one of the first commandments is to love one another, and God has made us to be one so it breaks my heart when I hear about this happening so often.” Likewise, Mariam, who is Muslim and a junior at another High School says “It makes no sense to me that people, even those claiming to be Muslims, would ever do something so harmful against another human being, and yet this problem is still everywhere. That only drives me to fight harder for all the women who do not have a voice.” Neither girl knows the other exists.
In summary, Dressember opened a number of doors for me to become locally active in ways I had never even thought of before. Through this month, I was motivated to learn and do so much, and I felt empowered by all the women I knew to be walking those days like I did: in a fabulous dress!