What do you know about exploitation and human trafficking?
For many, these are topics that are only significant in other places, however, this is no longer true. And worse, they are the fastest-growing illegal industry.
Dawn Manske has set out to increase awareness of this tragedy and help victims find dignified employment to break the cycle of vulnerability and risk.
When traveling abroad in China, Dawn had the experience of seeing two major risks for exploitation and human trafficking, extreme poverty, and devaluation of the girl child. She spent time with orphans and loved on them. Many of them were girls because girls were often abandoned because of the cultural emphasis on male children. During her time in China, Dawn also discovered the risk of sex trafficking for the vulnerable poor population. Men and sometimes women would go into towns and find the families that were most vulnerable.
The 5 key components of exploitation and human trafficking
- Vulnerabilities – situations such as poverty.
- Procurers and perpetrators – people who are experts at identifying vulnerabilities.
- Exploitation – taking someone by force, fraud, or coercion.
- Rescue and restore
- Return and reintegrate
While Dawn was living in China she met people and saw the effect and impact of extreme poverty and devaluation of the girl child.
When perpetrators go into poor villages and tell families that they will take their children to the city and they will make a lot of money to send back home to them, the families don’t realize that it is a lie. The children are brought to big cities and used for slave labor.
The sandals that started it all
As Dawn was struggling to discover how she could help save these children and increase awareness of exploitation, her husband gave her a wedding gift of sandals. The sandals had a story of integrating business and helping people. This was the first time Dawn understood social enterprise.
Another wedding gift came from a friend who came from Thailand, a few pairs of fisherman’s pants. While traveling, people asked Dawn where she got the pants. The pants are very unique and comfortable and people wanted them when they saw them.
The first step when creating a business is identifying the problem that you can solve.
People were asking Dawn about the pants and wanted the pants, but the pants were hard to find or purchase. This was the start of Dawn’s idea to sell pants. However, she didn’t think she wanted to spend her energy selling pants. She wanted to have an impact. But, she remembered the example of the sandals, doing business while doing good.
The pants were created to help victims of exploitation and human trafficking
Dawn started by partnering with an organization in Thailand. She resigned the pants so that they would be more flattering, not so baggy. The name was also changed from Fisherman’s Pants to Creabeli pants, which means creating a beautiful life. Young ladies who came from marginalized environments and had been victims of exploitation were taught how to sew and make Creabeli pants. After they made several orders for Dawn, Dawn received a message that the ladies were having great success with finding jobs, etc, and therefore, they were no longer sewing.
Dawn is now looking to partner with another organization to make the pants.
What causes people to fall into exploitation and what are the pieces to help them get out?
After exploitation is rescued and restored. These include a safe house, therapy, legal services, and counseling. But, then there is the next piece which is often forgotten, and that is returned and reintegrated. To be successful at this, women have to have a skill.
This is where Dawn and Made for Freedom come in. They provide dignified employment. Dignified employment is a job that is safe, provides encouragement, provides a good wage, and prevents or decreases vulnerabilities. Therefore, the women are able to support themselves and are no longer vulnerable.
Exploitation and human trafficking are global issues and that includes the U.S.
Globally, human trafficking is the fastest-growing illegal industry. It is an industry, it is supply and demand. Human trafficking looks different in different places, but anywhere you go, you have vulnerable populations and people who are greedy and willing to exploit others for their gain.
Who is at risk for exploitation and human trafficking?
Refugees and immigrants
People living in extreme poverty
Women in domestic violence situations
People living with low self-esteem and a lack of support from family and friends
Kids in the foster system – many kids, 80+%, who age out of foster care, typically at age 18, end up in jail, homeless, or as a prostitute.
It is important for all of us to be aware that this is happening so we can recognize what’s happening, and protect vulnerable populations.
The story of the starfish
There was a little boy walking on the beach and he was throwing starfish back in the ocean. An old man stopped him and asked why he was doing that. The boy responded, “I am saving the starfish.” The old man then said, “there are thousands of starfish and only one you, what difference can you make?” The boy picked up a starfish and threw it in the water and said, “I made a difference for that one.”
Even if we do only a small part, we are able to make a difference.
This is why Dawn carries the starfish necklace in her show.
Another necklace she carries is a heart necklace that is two-toned and the center of the heart has been removed and put into another necklace. These necklaces are taken as a gift by outreach teams to people they know are working in red-light districts who whom they suspect have been exploited and they say “you are valuable and you have dignity, we don’t want anything in return but we want you to know that someone wearing the other part of this is standing for your freedom”. They receive this necklace, and many come back to the center and state that they want to leave that life and see that they are valuable.
Every purchase from Dawn’s store is the result of providing dignified employment. The more she sells, the more opportunities she creates for dignified employment.
About Dawn Manske
Dawn Manske is the founder of Made for Freedom. She is on a mission to fight human trafficking with style. Dawn started the social enterprise, Made for Freedom with an idea revolving around her favorite international clothing. The company has grown into a lifestyle brand carrying clothing, bath and body, jewelry, home goods, and more with retail space across the U.S. Dawn has partnered with over 20 re4storation centers/suppliers worldwide and provided over 25,000 hours of dignified employment for survivors of trafficking and those coming out of marginalized situations. In addition, she has been a guest speaker for conferences, news programs, and the US State Department to present the impact of dignified employment in the fight against human trafficking.
Learn more from and connect with Dawn Manske and human trafficking:
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