We need a global movement to end slavery
If you are reading this, you can probably relate to my daily routine. This morning I woke up in a warm bed, had a nutritious breakfast, and grabbed my Starbucks before heading to work. It is obvious that the world I woke up in was not a world of violence or oppression.
A life of violence and oppression was the world Cassie* woke up in.
Cassie grew up in a small rural village in the Philippines and was promised new clothes, good food, and an education by a trusted family friend in Manila. When Cassie arrived in Manila, she would go to school during the day but would come home to find the trusted family friend was running a cybersex business in his home. Cassie was raped and forced to perform sexual acts over a webcam for customers across the world.
“It was really hard,” Cassie says, her chilling words tumbling out quickly, “I was thinking, ‘I want to die, I want to die because of this pain, but I can’t. I want to stop my breath. But, it’s always—Oh, I’m still breathing. Why can’t I die?”
For five years Cassie was trapped in this cycle of abuse and exploitation with other young women. 800 miles from the rural home she grew up in, Cassie became a victim of cybersex trafficking. She is one out of five women who will become victims of rape or attempted rape.
Fortunately, Cassie did not stay in a world of violence and exploitation.
International Justice Mission (IJM) worked with Philippine authorities and U.S. Homeland Security to pinpoint Cassie’s location and rescue her from exploitation. The man who profited from her abuse was arrested and imprisoned.
IJM is the world’s largest anti-trafficking organization in the world. They work to protect the poor from violence in the developing world with a vision to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible.”
According to the United Nations, 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. This means that their public justice systems- police, courts, and laws- are so broken, corrupt, and dysfunctional, that there is nothing to shield the poor from violence.
Injustice is defined by IJM as “when someone abuses their power to take from others the good things God wants them to have- their life, liberty, dignity, and the fruits of their love and labor.”
IJM works specifically with cases of slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing, and citizens’ rights abuse. One commonality that distinguishes these cases as injustice is the presence of violence. IJM’s solution is to be a casework organization to seek actual, tangible, and immediate relief for those suffering while changing the corrupt government system that supports oppression. This is accomplished through a four-step process: rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors, and strengthening systems.
With over 40 million slaves in the world today, IJM cannot end slavery alone. They rely on strategic partnerships to fuel the mission. Individual supporters partner with IJM by becoming Freedom Partners to fund rescue missions that relieve children like Cassie from violence and exploitation. Since 2012, justice systems have partnered with IJM to develop training for over 46,000 local officers and officials to better enforce the law.
IJM needs lawyers, investigators, and social workers to be on the front lines rescuing victims, but they also need people taking ordinary steps every single day to create a global movement of advocates. They need people, like you and me, wearing dresses as a symbol of freedom and power for the inherent dignity of all people.
IJM was Dressember’s first grant partner and has received increasingly more financial support from Dressember each year. Dressember has been able to give multiple large grants equaling 2,083,000 dollars to IJM that funds rescue programs and operations.
"IJM needs lawyers, investigators, and social workers to be on the front lines rescuing victims, but they also need people taking ordinary steps every single day to create a global movement of advocates."
With this support and the support of many others, IJM has been able to protect more than 21 million people from violence. Since IJM was founded, they have rescued over 3,260 children and women from sex traffickers.
These numbers are more than statistics, they are real people who are no longer in a world of violence or exploitation. They were rescued through the ordinary task of people wearing a dress and raising funds through Dressember as well as so many other individual/ organizational partnerships. In a world of violence and exploitation, wearing a dress can be a powerful thing.
IJM has seen the impact this work has had on some of the poorest, violent inflicted communities and they understand that for slavery to end we need a global movement of advocates. Will you join us?
About the Author
Kaitlyn Wanta is about to graduate college and face the real world. After learning how to stay warm in a dress during Wisconsin's winter, she is excited to hear and share the stories of fellow Dressember advocates. Her bucket list includes riding in a hot air balloon, finishing a cookbook by making all the recipes, and catching a fish larger than herself.