Nov. 16, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Local Woman Fights Human Trafficking through Fashion
Kelly Sjol (Freedom, Pa.) to wear a dress every day in December to raise money and awareness, calls on others to join her in ‘Dressember’ movement
FREEDOM, PA—During the month of December, Kelly Sjol of Freedom, Pa., will join thousands of women (and men) who are participating in a global movement to increase awareness of and ultimately eradicate slavery and sex trafficking. Dressember equips everyday advocates to fight to rescue, protect, and restore the lives of human trafficking survivors around the world and in their own backyards, simply by putting on a dress every day in December and calling on friends, family members, coworkers, and classmates to contribute to their campaigns. Men can also participate by committing to wear a tie every day.
What began as a quirky style challenge in 2009 by fashion blogger Blythe Hill took on new meaning in 2013, when Dressember aligned with IJM, a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. In 2015, Dressember added a second grant partner: A21, which exists to abolish modern-day slavery in the 21st century. In less than four years, Dressember advocates have raised almost $3 million.
Sjol, a marketing consultant and mother of two young daughters, has raised nearly $2,500 in two years. This year she hopes to increase local awareness and participation through her team Dressember Pittsburgh, which has a goal of $6,300—the approximate cost of one rescue mission.
“I was exposed to the enormity of human trafficking several years ago and simultaneously was heartbroken and overwhelmed,” says Sjol. “As a busy working mom of young kids, I thought ‘What can I do?’ I participate in Dressember because it’s something I can do to shine a light on an incredibly dark global and local issue by raising awareness and funds. When I put on a dress every day for a month; when I tell people why I’m choosing to wear a dress when it’s 20 degrees outside, I am reminded of the freedom I have to even make that choice.”
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history: The U.S. State Department last put the number of victims worldwide at an estimated 27 million, but according to its most recent report, it’s likely in the tens of millions. It is also the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion USD every year, according to the International Labor Organization. Only 1% of human trafficking victims are ever rescued. So far in 2017, there have been 117 reported cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania.
“We work with our grant partners to bring relief, restoration, and resources to victims around the world,” says Dressember on its website. “It is our hope that through a growing, collaborative community of advocates, we ultimately dismantle the human trafficking industry from every angle.”
What: Advocates raise money and awareness for anti-human trafficking organizations by wearing dresses every day during the month of December. In four years, advocates worldwide have raised nearly $3 million.
When: December 1–31, 2017; Donations are being accepted now through January 2018
Become an Advocate: Visit bit.ly/dressember2017, select Join Team, set up page, join ‘Dressember Pittsburgh’
Donate: Visit bit.ly/kellydressember2017 to donate to local advocate Kelly Sjol’s personal campaign
Social Media: hashtags #dressember, #dressemberpgh; Facebook, Instagram: @dressember, @kellysjol