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'Dressember' Movement Celebrates Femininity to Hit Hard at Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women

Wear a dress every day in December; Funds raised will support International Justice Mission’s groundbreaking work to free women in oppression

What began as a quirky style challenge with a clever name has spread to unite women in 32 countries across 6 continents – women committed to leveraging a simple, feminine fashion choice in order to fight for the dignity and freedom of women worldwide.

The creative challenge is simple: Women commit to wearing a dress every day in December, to embrace the freedom that they're allowed, on behalf of those who aren't free to live vibrant, autonomous lives. All funds raised through this pledge will support the work of International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization that combats slavery, trafficking, sexual exploitation, illegal land seizure and other forms of violent oppression worldwide.

“We have gained incredible momentum since Dressember started in 2009,” said Blythe Hill, founder of Dressember. “Though femininity comes in many forms, we have challenged women to the simple act of wearing a dress every day in December as a way to raise awareness and funds to support one of the world’s leading teams fighting for the dignity and freedom of all women. The response has been incredible.”

In 2013, its first fundraising year, Dressember raised $165,000, which they donated to IJM. The Dressember team plans to raise upwards of $500,000 this December, and will again donate most of the earnings to global anti-slavery non-profit IJM.

“The founders of Dressember have found a creative, unique way to celebrate an aspect of femininity and include all women in an effort to battle the very serious crimes that rob women of their inherent dignity and freedom,” said Mindy Mizell, IJM’s Global Director of Public Relations for IJM. “We are grateful for their attention to these critical issues. Even simple acts of support can generate impact for the organizations fighting on the ground everyday for progress and change.”

The United Nations reports that sexual violence – including rape, molestation and other forms of sexual abuse – is a global epidemic that leaves millions around the world terrified in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. In many developing communities, basic daily activities – taking public transportation, collecting water – can put girls and women at particular risk of sexual assault. And for many poor girls, school is the most common place where sexual violence occurs. The agency reports that one out of three women across the globe experiences violent abuse within her lifetime.

Since 2006, IJM has rescued more than 19,000 people from violence and oppression, and secured the convictions of more than 800 violent criminals. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. . Whether defending women in illegal land seizure cases in Africa, or rescuing girls trapped in sexual slavery in Asia, or helping whole families come out of forced labor slavery in India, IJM’s sole purpose is to protect people from violent abuse and strengthen the justice systems that protect them from violence before it occurs. The organization presents its mission and experience in its latest book, The Locust Effect (Oxford University Press, 2014), by founder Gary Haugen.

“The heart of Dressember is freedom,” said Hill. “We believe that every woman has the right to live a life of independence and dignity.”

To get involved and join the movement, visit www.dressemberfoundation.org, or contact: info@dressemberfoundation.org. Track on Instragram: @dressember and #dressember

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