I was teaching a group of girls who were rescued from sex trafficking how to make sports bras from old t-shirts. They didn’t think it was possible.
In an effort to understand the mentality of a girl that has been used for sex trafficking, the sex trafficking industry must be understood. “Human trafficking is a form of slavery and it is a crime. It’s much easier for a pimp/trafficker to sell a girl over and over again than it is to go out and sell drugs.” ~Michelle Sigona/Crimewatch Daily.
Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Within that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
Sex traffickers often recruit children because not only are children more unsuspecting and vulnerable than adults, but there is also a high market demand for young victims. Traffickers target victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, or from families who are willing to sell their own relatives for profit. The children range in age from 6 to 19, with the average age being 11.
It is important to note that trafficking victims are not runaways or “bad” children, they are girls that have been brainwashed or kidnapped away from their homes and are stuck in awful situations.
By the time I am teaching one of the girls in my class to sew, she has been used, abused, stripped of their dignity as cast aside when she was no longer needed by her trafficker. In an effort to provide therapeutic education, I try to create simple sewing projects that can provide instant gratification and give our girls something they can make and keep for their very own.
For our t-shirt bra up cycling project, the importance of making a sports bra out of an old t-shirt however had more significance than the actual product. I wanted to show the girls that something old; something that had been used does get second chances. The bra in this photo above was very special. Each of our volunteers and one of our trafficking victims made some part of this bra. Through teamwork and love, we brought life back to this old t-shirt and gave a young girl a new support structure… a bra!
Some of the work made by students in our sex-trafficking sewing/textile arts program will be on display at the Creativity Shell’s annual fashion show (Creativity Rocks!) at the Children’s Museum of Houston on May 14.
Tickets available on Eventbrite: www.eventbrite.com