Mary Pember: Fashion show tackles trafficking in Indian Country

Participants in the Clothed in Strength, Honor and Beauty Conference and Fashion Show. Photo from Facebook

Independent journalist Mary Annette Pember reports on the Clothed in Strength, Honor and Beauty conference and fashion show that focused on human trafficking in Native communities:
The Clothed in Strength, Honor and Beauty Conference on Human Trafficking and Fashion Show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in September included presentations, workshops and panel discussions aimed at educating youth about the dangers of sex trafficking (including how traffickers use the internet to lure victims), as well as providing tips and guidance about safely entering the fashion industry as a model or designer.

According to co-organizers Lisa Heth, executive director of Wiconi Wawokiya a non-profit victim services organization based on the Crow Creek Reservation, and Gina Still Smoking, a Lakota/Blackfeet fashion designer, traffickers have been known to pose as fashion designers, photographers or talent agents on social media sites in order to lure young people into prostitution.

According to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center’s Shattered Hearts report, pimps have been known to lure Native girls away from rural reservations into prostitution with promises of modeling or dancing jobs in cities.

“Recent data suggest that sex trafficking is on the rise with Native American women, Heth said.

Although there is a dearth of data regarding sex trafficking victims, recent studies in Hennepin County, Minnesota revealed that although Native peoples comprise only 2.2 percent of the population, roughly 25 percent of people arrested for prostitution were Native.

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: ‘My Body Is Not for Sale’: Fashion Fights Sex-Trafficking (Indian Country Today 10/5)

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