dresses for justice

I’ve never experienced slavery. I’ve never been sold from person to person, I’ve never been used and reused like a disposable item, I’ve never been threatened and forced into a life that made me want to die…

My mornings are relatively simple. I wake up an hour or two before my first class. I check my phone– read some messages, check my twitter and instagram feed, maybe look at my nonexistent friend requests, and read a little devotional from my app. After finding the motivation to drag myself out of bed, I usually spend some time putting on makeup whilst listening to whatever music I’m feeling that day. I work on homework if I’m feeling productive, but usually I just sit and write, eat muffins, or mess around on my phone. Then I put on some clothes – a dress, this month – and go to class.

No one forces me to do any of these things.

Every day all around the world, millions of young girls start their days in a very different form. They are woken up by a loud clock or the shove of a strange man, sometimes in the middle of the night if need for money requires (and it often does). They don’t have a phone to check as they rub their sleepy eyes, and if they do, they don’t have the time. For them, the motivation to get up is provided by angry threats of violence. They aren’t able to relaxedly prepare for their day of class: they will spend the day working as a sexual slave to a stranger or traveling to places where they can be sold. They get no muffins or music, no choice to put on a pretty dress and matching shoes before they are shoved out to the streets to work.

In my cynical mind, the same awful thought sneaks in my head sometimes: that’s absolutely terrible… but I can’t do anything about that.

But aren’t we called to do those things that seem impossible? Does God not promise to provide the rest when we offer our faith? He says that we can move mountains, so why would we doubt that He could save the life of a girl? He can.

And we can be His hands and feet in this looming task.

This year, Dordt College, my beloved school, is taking on the challenge of rescuing someone from this horrible life. A group of students who were hungry to save lives decided to support the cause with a project that they felt our small private college could conquer.

Dressember is a month-long project built on the back of International Justice Mission, an organization that aims to rescue and reinvigorate the lives of people trapped in slavery around the world. In a broader sense, they seek to eliminate violence in this broken world.

And Dressember is a way for ordinary people like me to help the cause!

For the entire month of December, I am going to be wearing a dress in support of the young girls who have been robbed of their femininity and individuality. Even in the cold weather, I will put on one of the twenty-five dresses in my closet and brave the northwest Iowa wind to prove a point. It may not be comfortable all the time, but it’s a small inconvenience compared to the discomfort experienced by young enslaved girls.

A good portion of Dordt College’s campus is currently participating: women are wearing dresses and men, ties. It’s something small, but we’re trying our best to create awareness. People have asked how wearing a dress will change the lives of people halfway across the world, and it’s hard to explain.

Because me wearing a dress isn’t going to change the world.

It’s not the dress, though. It’s the person (or in our campus’ case, people) who can change the world. At least, that’s the mission. By taking this pledge on of our own will, we are showing the public that this is important to us.

And, because awareness alone won’t save lives, our campus is also trying to raise money through the Dressember project, which will be donated to IJM for the extraction and help of sexual slaves. The more money we raise, the more children IJM will have the resources to help.

Our campus goal is $15,000: a big number but a small sum when considering the thirty million or more people in slavery. Students are encouraged to donate, but we could also use the help of friends, relatives, and general do-gooders to reach our goal. Consider it a Christmas gift to all the children who may never receive one because of their situation.

Please check out our donation page and consider giving even a little to show your support HERE.

I wake up every morning on my own accord, put on whatever clothes I wish to wear, and go about my day how I please. But what about those who cannot do any of those things?

We wear dresses for the speechless, the broken and controlled. We wear dresses because they cannot. We wear dresses so that someday, maybe, they will have that freedom.

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