Winona mom draws attention to human trafficking one dress at a time

Winona mom draws attention to human trafficking one dress at a time

It’s estimated that at least 20 million people are victims of slavery in the world today, and so far this year, about 4,500 cases of human trafficking have been reported in the United States.

It’s not just a national problem. Local law enforcement find people being sold for sex as well, and this month, one Winona woman has made it her mission to raise awareness.

“It’s been getting more difficult as the temperatures drop,” Kati Stoltman said.

It’s been a long, chilly December for many of us, but Stoltman has been feeling the cold more than most.

She has a warm Winona home, full of life, with a cat, guinea pigs and a new puppy, not to mention her three young daughters.

But Stoltman isn’t thinking of herself, or even the single-degree temperatures, as she picks out a dress every single day of December. Rather, she has a greater cause in mind.

“Every day almost someone has asked me, ‘What’s with the dress?'” she said. “Well, then it’s an opening to, ‘It’s to raise awareness of human trafficking.'”

Stoltman is participating in Dressember, a national campaign addressing human trafficking.

Every day, attached to pictures of the dress she’s wearing, she shares a fact on Facebook.

“One of the statistics that shook me was there are more slaves today than ever in history,” Stoltman said. “You’re taught that slavery’s over. It’s not; it’s just evolved.”

She said while responses have been mostly positive, many of her friends are surprised.

“There are a lot of shock comments, (like) ‘Wow this is terrible,” Stoltman said. “My response then is, ‘Do something.'”

“It’s here in America, in our state, in our town,” she said about trafficking.

“In the world we live in, it’s just too easy,” Winona County Sheriff Ron Ganrude said, adding that the rise of the internet is changing the human trafficking landscape.

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