by Rita Raish/SUN
On Sunday, July 29, the public is invited to, ‘Bringing Dignity to Women,’ an event organized to show South Dakota’s unified effort in raising awareness and educating others in the fight against human trafficking, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. Native Hope, in partnership with the Call to Freedom and Red Ribbon Skirt Society organizations, is hosting the event at the Chamberlain I-90 rest area between exits 263 and 265, beneath the towering sculpture of Dale Lamphere’s ‘Dignity’. Scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., the event will feature speakers, a drum group, music, and a community meal. The event is free of charge.
Native Hope Executive Director Trisha Burke said, “In the past, Native Hope has spent time at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August spreading awareness of human trafficking in South Dakota, which involves a proportionately high percentage of Native American women. This year, we chose to raise awareness by hosting an event along Interstate 90, specifically near Dignity, as she represents the continuous journey for all women to achieve the dignity they deserve.”
Many victims of trafficking are women who have been kidnapped and forced into sex slavery by predators out to exploit women as a way to make money. The average age of a trafficked girl is 16, with girls as young as 12 being preyed upon- an age too young for them to even know what is even happening to them.
Kansas Middletent, an ambassador for Native Hope said, “Sex trafficking and domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. I-90 is the gateway west, and South Dakota is a mecca for predators. Our women and children are being preyed upon and are being victimized, and it’s our job to stand up and protect them.”
Many victims become trapped into a dark world of abuse after getting duped by the false promises of mentally manipulative people, including those they thought of as a friend, or as a result of a generational family cycle.
Oftentimes victims have entrusted their love to adults who they think are there to protect them; instead, they are flung into a dark world of unimaginable horrors. With no support or resources available to counter the attack, they become isolated economically and psychologically- their souls beaten down with guilt, fear, and shame until they blame themselves for the abuse.
Their plight remains invisible, leaving them with no hope of leaving.
Native Hope’s motto for this cause is, ‘Rally together, and we can end it.’
But first, we must face it.
To show support, people are asked to wear red or blue t-shirts to the event. Various groups will be donating their time to help, from parking cars to serving the meal. If you would like to volunteer, contact Burke or Middletent at Native Hope at 605-234-3566.