Ask the media to tell survivors’ stories with dignity - FreedomUnited.org

My Story, My Dignity Pledge

The anti-modern slavery sector relies on strong stories and eye-catching images when writing about modern slavery. Raising awareness of the issues and the prevalence of modern slavery is essential, but so often, as survivors of modern slavery tell us, the images and language used to tell these stories do not reflect them accurately or in a dignified way.

All too often, disempowering language and images are used to drive the narratives around modern slavery and extreme exploitation, sensationalizing the experience of modern slavery today. Sensationalist images and language can unintentionally create or reinforce stereotypes or negative prejudices.

You can help change this by adopting the My Story, My Dignity Pledge as an individual or on behalf of an organization, company or institution that publicly shares human trafficking and modern slavery information and cases. By adhering to the pledge, you can help ensure accurate and respectful representations, so that we are all better informed on the realities of modern slavery and better equipped to end it. The anti-modern slavery movement must create the space for leadership from lived experience, helping identify lasting solutions.

The My Story, My Dignity Pledge principles:

  1. Choose respectful images that are representative of the issue. Choose stock images carefully.
  2. Select text that accurately represents the story. Be careful to avoid sensationalist language.
  3. Respect survivors’ right to privacy and dignity.
  4. Obtain prior consent to using a personal story, be transparent and accurate about the process and how it will be used.

Read Freedom United’s content guidelines to see how we live by the pledge.

  • October 15, 2020: The West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network ran a workshop based on the My Story, My Dignity workshop content – we’re proud to see the workshop being used by partners in the anti-modern slavery sector! We encourage more organizations to sign up the pledge and implement the guidelines.

  • September 18, 2020: We’re proud to have the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s office as a signatory on the pledge and to see the pledge mentioned in her annual report published today. How we communicate on modern slavery and people’s experiences of it is crucial in dismantling disempowering, retraumatizing and victimizing narratives of modern slavery.

  • September 15, 2020: That’s a wrap! Thank you to everyone who attended our final #MyStoryMyDignity online workshop today hosted in partnership with the fantastic Dr. Hannah Lewis at the University of Sheffield. We’re grateful for the participation of so many organizations discussing ethical representations of modern slavery. We’re developing a briefing to share with the wider anti-modern slavery community. More updates on that to come soon!

  • February 26, 2020: Our voice is being heard! The U.S. State Department has adopted the My Story, My Dignity campaign & pledge and issued guidelines helping change the narrative around modern slavery.

  • January 24, 2020: Freedom United co-led a workshop with photographer Jeremy Abrahams on ethical visual representations of modern slavery at the University of Sheffield’s “Rights, dignity and religion” conference. Read more here.

  • Nov 09, 2017: Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

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Linda Duffy
Linda Duffy
13 days ago

Just like the devil doesn’t always show up red and wearing horns and infsct can come in a beautiful image ! ! Well Not all slaves have chains and shackles . Slavery has been live and present in our world for centuries , sure its portrayed to have been abolished blah blah blah , what happens is its just dressed up in other ways, and just like the bourgeoisie have always done they’re protected by their own laws. Slavery has now gone global, like the pandemic its spread let’s stamp it out !

Peter Blackmore
Peter Blackmore
13 days ago

Slavery has still not been eradicated, but the majority of people do not realise this. They still think that slavery was abolished with the American Civil War, and have no concept of modern slavery.
They have no idea that it happens in this country, with people smugglers and gang bosses, bringing mainly East Europeans, to work on farms or as domestics. More could be done by the media, to bring this problem to the publics attention.

Alena Adámková
Alena Adámková
11 days ago

Help innocent people.

Ask the media to tell survivors’ stories with dignity

Dear Editor,

As a leading English-language media house, we call on you to show the importance of treating modern slavery survivors’ stories with dignity, by adopting the My Story, My Dignity pledge within your publications’ style guide.

Disempowering language and images used to drive the narratives around modern slavery and extreme exploitation sensationalize the experience of modern slavery today, unintentionally creating and reinforcing stereotypes that contribute to an environment in which survivors aren’t empowered to take up positions of leadership.

We call on you to take a clear stance against inaccurate, sensationalist portrayals of slavery by following the My Story, My Dignity pledge:

1. Choose respectful images that are representative of the issue. Choose stock images carefully.
2. Select text that accurately represents the story. Be careful to avoid sensationalist language.
3. Respect survivors’ right to privacy and dignity.
4. Obtain prior consent to using a personal story, be transparent and accurate about the process and how it will be used.

You can be a powerful ally in setting a standard for communicating the realities of slavery, demonstrating anti-racism in action for a future in which marginalized communities are no longer subjected to systematic exploitation.

Yours sincerely,
[Insert name]

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