Fashion Show of Support Raises Awareness of Human Trafficking

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Each year thousands of people in the United States become victims of human trafficking and in 2017 there were 74 cases reported in Iowa, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Saturday night, models walked the runway at Wakonda Club to support Dorothy's House, a safe place for victims of trafficking.

House of DSM partnered with Dorothy’s House for the Fashion Show of Support to raise awareness to the issue of sex trafficking.

A trafficking survivor, who spoke during the event, said trafficking has many different faces and it often happens to young women in a variety of places and situations.

Shay said it’s important that people in central Iowa know it’s happening here.

“People think that it’s just kids on I-80, I-35. they think that they’re in abandoned homes, in handcuffs and chains. There are kids in high schools, in every single high school here in Iowa, that this has happened to. Kids Against Human Trafficking went around to speak at high schools and 300 kids came forward in a year to say that some type of sexual abuse has happened to them and some were sex trafficked. So these are kids that are going to school and going home at night,” Executive Producer of House DSM Fashion Show Julie Shay said.

Shay said the promise of a modeling career is one of the many ways young girls are lured into sex trafficking and she wanted to use this show as a platform to educate and raise money for Dorothy’s House.

“Sex traffickers promise them the world and basically they show up for an audition and then bad things happen. The models that I worked with had agencies and were all very reputable so they didn’t run into it, but the girls that were having a harder time with their work fell into some sex trafficking. Not that fashion leads to that at all, but it’s a lure to how bad people get them in,” Shay said.

Dorothy’s House helps victims of trafficking and gives them a safe space to live and thrive.

“The outcomes for women and children who have been trafficked and exploited is absolutely devastating. And the belief systems that individuals create in terms of their sense of self worth and that their bodies are their only asset that they have to take care of them is something that they’re taught over and over and over again in this industry. And if there’s one thing that we hope that they can take away from their time at Dorothy’s House is to reconnect with that authentic person that they were born to be,” Dorothy’s House Executive Director and Founder Kelly Markey said.

The proceeds from the fashion show go to Dorothy’s House to support more victims.

If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.