Imagine wearing the same clothes everyday, unable to change no matter how dirty they become or what the weather is like. This is only one of the unfortunate things victims of sex trafficking suffer.
Wearing the same dress everyday is also the way six Albion College students, Nora Riggs, Woodhaven sophomore; Rachel Eaton, Stevensville senior; Emily Walker, Dansville sophomore; Chris Hallam, Northville sophomore; Jacqueline Nowak, Comstock Park first-year and Andrea Jehl, Marysville first-year, are raising awareness on campus about sex trafficking. This initiative to promote the northwest Ohio organization, The Daughter Project, began Oct. 15 and will continue until Jan. 1.
Wednesday the group hosted an event in the KC to answer questions about the The Daughter Project.
“Sex trafficking isn’t just in third-world countries. Ohio is the fourth highest state as far as sex trafficking. It’s everywhere,” said Riggs. She was also responsible for the organization of the awareness event.
Speakers from outside the college came to share information, stories and facts came to Wednesday’s event, drawing a large crowd. The audience sat on mattresses instead of chairs to symbolize the lives of trafficking victims, and chains strung from the KC balcony suspended signs stating shocking facts. The symbolism of the dresses was also explained.
The dresses are being worn in a continuation of the internationally known One Dress Project. Through this, Riggs hopes to encourage students to ask questions, as well as to raise awareness for The Daughter Project. This new, northwest Ohio-based organization features an after care center for victims rescued from the trafficking industry.
“The dress is symbolic of what women and children go through,” said Riggs, who is responsible for the campus movement. “It’s humbling because I realize what I can do on a daily basis.”
She first got the idea from a Facebook event sent out by her friend, who is involved in a similar event at MSU. Immediately drawn to the cause, Riggs talked to her friends about joining the movement.
“At Intervarsity (Christians), Nora mentioned an initiative to raise awareness. It caught my attention: why would you wear one dress for a period of time?” said Eaton, Stevensville senior.
After looking into it more, Eaton and Hallam, Walker, Nowak and Jehl were all sporting dresses.
Hallam says she has learned the importance of trafficking awareness by participating:
“People are too polite. I can see it in people’s faces that they know I haven’t changed my clothes, but everyone is too polite to ask. People realize that its taking place, but they don’t want to get involved. It’s the same for sex-trafficking.”
Photo courtesy of Andy Leyder