I have invited a friend of mine, Melissa Watson, to write a guest post for me this week. She works for Free The Girls, an organization that works hard at a very worthwhile cause: helping those who have been rescued from human trafficking to get back on their feet, with the resources to develop the skills they need to move forward with a healthy and fulfilling life.
By Melissa Watson, National Director, Free The Girls
Five years ago, I would have never thought of myself as an abolitionist. In my mind, slavery ended in the United States in 1865 and, along with it, went the abolitionist movement.
Enter Free The Girls with their cheeky name and catchy slogan, “Donate a Bra. Give a Former Slave a Job.”
Free The Girls is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides job opportunities to survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries by helping them establish their own businesses selling bras in the second-hand clothing markets. And, through the collection of bras in Western countries, Free The Girls inspires people and organizations to get involved in the fight against modern day slavery.
What’s the problem?
Currently over 27 million men, women and children are being held as slaves around the world—more today than in any other time in history. The majority of those slaves are women and girls—many of whom are victims of sex trafficking.
There are a number of amazing organizations that are helping to rescue these women out of a life of prostitution, but what happens after they are rescued? Free The Girls partners with established aftercare facilities to help provide job opportunities to survivors of sex trafficking selling bras.
Yes, bras. Every woman has a small graveyard of bras in the back of her underwear drawer—bras that she doesn’t wear anymore or that never fit right in the first place. By contrast, second-hand clothing is a profitable market in many countries around the world. Bras are sought after items. And even better, bras provide an opportunity for the women in our program to establish their own businesses, to have flexible hours so they can return to school and care for their families and, most of all, to work with other women—a contrast to their former lives where they were being abused and used by men.
How You Can Help
Start by donating those bras lingering in the back of your lingerie drawer to Free The Girls. Then, encourage your friends to do the same. Give up your favorite vice once a week—the double soy latte, the drive-thru dinner, or the second glass of wine during happy hour—and, at the end of the month, total up your savings and sign up to be a monthly donor to support Free The Girls job creation program. In short, resolve to be an Everyday Abolitionist.
What does it mean to be an Everyday Abolitionist?
If you are like most people, you might think that the only way to make a difference is to “go big or go home.” Free The Girls knows that real life doesn’t work that way. Becoming an Everyday Abolitionist is simple, and it doesn’t require you give up all your spare time or make an endowment-worthy donation.
Everyday Abolitionists take a stand against modern day slavery in their everyday lives. They take advantage of opportunities like donating bras they never wear. They write a note to a survivor of sex trafficking. They buy a sweet Free The Girls t-shirt. They use social media to encourage their friends and family to take a stand, too.
Everyday Abolitionists are conscious consumers and purchase fair-trade, slave-free clothing, food, and consumer products whenever possible. Some Everyday Abolitionists shop at e-retailers like ASTERrisk who donates the proceeds from the sale of her exclusive, handmade Free The Girls branded jewelry. Other Everyday Abolitionists hold garage sales and donate the proceeds. Many Everyday Abolitionists invite their friends to start a book club that selects books about human trafficking.
Everyday Abolitionists ask thoughtful, discreet questions to people they encounter in the service industry (such as manicurists, housekeepers, day laborers, or restaurant kitchen staff) to determine whether that person is being forced to work in return for room and board. They write to their lawmakers demanding laws which impose tougher penalties for pimps, johns, and unscrupulous employers; which de-criminalize and expunge records of those arrested for prostitution and illegal immigration; and which fund services directed at the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking.
Small, simple steps leading to real, tangible results.
Everyday Abolitionists don’t sacrifice their own identity for the cause, they make the cause part of their identity in small, meaningful ways every day.
Ready to join us? Learn more at freethegirls.org
Report suspected human trafficking violations to the National Hotline at 888-373-7888 or text the word INFO to 233733.
It's me, Alisa, again! Thanks for reading. I believe that turning outside of ourselves to help others is one of the greatest traits we can develop. Consider supporting Free The Girls, and while you're there you can see my cutie-patootie daughter Hailey! Try to imagine her or any girl or woman you love caught up in human trafficking. It's unthinkable.