BREMERTON — Elaine Turso, creator of the Dudes Against Human Trafficking “dudoir” calendar, has another project to help raise awareness and support to end human trafficking.
After being made aware of the problem, Turso reached out to a member of the Shared Hope International organization, which is working to end human trafficking. From her, Turso received a lot of educational material and a movie about the horrific world of human trafficking.
“It’s very humbling to actually sit down and really, truly educate yourself about this topic,” Turso said. “It’s really sickening, the things these children and teenagers and adults are going through.”
Turso said learning that the criminal justice system often treats the women victimized in human trafficking as criminals was particularly moving. As was learning the average age girls are pulled into that world is 12 years old.
“I wanted to educate myself about this topic so that I can educate others,” she said.
Currently, Turso is working to fundraise for her Soroptimist International organization by selling a calendar called Dudes Against Human Trafficking. The proceeds will be going toward human trafficking-related projects.
“On top of doing the calendar … I wanted to do something that would provide me a way to reach more people,” Turso said. “I decided to do an online campaign, under the headline of Dudes Against Human Trafficking. I’m calling it ‘Challengers for Change.’ ”
Turso said one thing that really stuck out to her when reading articles about arrests made in sting operations revolving around human trafficking was that the jobs of the people arrested were always listed.
“CEO, bus driver, whatever. These people are in a position of public trust,” she said.
So, she reached out to 31 men in the community and photographed them to represent their own profession and help raise awareness for the problem and possibly raise funds to help end it.
Architect, the Bremerton police chief, corrections officers, real estate agents, psychotherapist, football coach, judge, a dad…those are only some of the examples of the men featured in Turso’s project.
“I have a really wide assortment of gentlemen who came down and posed for a quick headshot and gave permission to use their photo to raise awareness about human trafficking,” Turso said. “They’re kind of the face of their profession.
“It’s just really awesome to have people step forward and say, ‘Yes, I’ll help you with this project.’ ”
Turso plans to publish one of those headshots to her Dudes Against Human Trafficking Facebook page every day in January, which is human trafficking awareness month. Along with those photos will be statistics and facts about human trafficking.
She said each of the men chose a human trafficking-related organization that will be promoted with their photo as well, to hopefully raise some funds. Those organizations include Scarlet Road, Shared Hope, Best Alliance, Thorn and Operation Underground Railroad.
“It (is) just a really great opportunity for people to become more aware,” Turso said. “Awareness won’t cure (human trafficking), but being aware of it is the first step to ending it.”
Learn more about Challengers for Change at elainetursophotography.com or facebook.com/dudesagainsthumantrafficking. Purchase the Dudes Against Human Trafficking calendar at elainetursopho tography.com/fundraising.
Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.