A newly-formed student organization looks to raise awareness of human trafficking through fashion.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been 5,748 reported cases of human trafficking this year via the organization’s hotline, 292 of them coming from Ohio.
Unchained OSU will hold its first annual fashion show to raise awareness on the issue in the Ohio Union on Wednesday.
“I just want people to realize that (human trafficking) is not just a third-world nation issue, this concerns America.” said Denise Tse Mun Liew, a second-year in marketing and economics and model in the Unchained OSU Fashion Show.
The fashion show portrays the story of an individual who had be trafficked. Leah Mitchell, a graduate student in public health and president of Unchained OSU, said the outfits modeled will portray the story, incorporating statistics on human trafficking projected on the screen to educate audiences.
As a branch of Unchained, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization that does city-wide fashion shows to benefit human trafficking causes, Mitchell has been helping expand the organization since September.
“Human trafficking is a concept that we learn about in public health,” Mitchell said. “But it’s so much more than textbook material when you interact with women that have been trafficked in our very own community.”
Mitchell got involved with Unchained in July 2015, and modeled in the organization’s fashion show in October.
Being a part of the show, Mitchell said she realized that it was exactly what she wanted to do — educate, raise awareness and empower other students.
“I would say that the purpose of the organization is to really shine a light into a dark situation,” Mitchell said.
Unchained OSU’s first attempt to raise students’ awareness was an outreach event called “Rose Night.”
“We handed out fresh roses to girls that walked by, the roses had tags on them with human trafficking statistics.” Mitchell said. “Our job is to be able to share these statistics among the students — the people on campus.”
In the future, the group plans to hand out care bags to women in need in human trafficking “hot spots” around Columbus. These outreach events successfully attracted students like Liew.
Liew, a fashion and retail studies minor, considers fashion as the most underrated communication method and said she believes fashion evokes emotion. She joined Unchained OSU and decided to model for this organization.
“To use fashion to raise awareness about human trafficking, to me, that’s very smart,” Liew said, “I think that’s what we should do with fashion these days, because design can easily tell a story.”
Liew said she wants the audience to feel a call to action.
“I want them to feel compelled, to take a stand on this issue, and be aware, be educated,” she said.
The Unchained fashion show is set to take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Ohio Union Performance Hall. Tickets are available at the door for $30 general admission and $15 with a BuckID.
Correction Nov. 8: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date of the event as Tuesday Nov. 8 when the event is in fact on Wednesday, Nov. 9.