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The Phoenix of Human Rights

This mural was completed alongside the Montreal Mural Festival and raises awareness of sex trafficking and forced sexual exploitation.Local community activist Heidi Yane and her daughter Megan Yane came up with the idea for the mural. It was created as part of the organisation About The Way Out, which was founded in 2013 and offers lodgings and support to survivors of sex trafficking.The piece contains the handprints of many people who are involved in human rights issues, including Alwyn Morris and Kakaionstha Deer, as well as a survivor of the Cambodian 'killing fields'. The phoenix is a symbol for rebirth after death and represents spirituality, direction, protection and awareness. It sends a message that the rights of a survivor of human trafficking are just as important as anyone else's rights.

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The Fruits of Our Labour

This mural was one of Groundswell's projects and was created by the young members of the Mount Eden community with artists Jose de Jesus Rodriquez and Paula Frisch. The project aimed to improve the public's perspective on agricultural and food workers, and highlights the vulnerability of these labourers. Organisers hoped to promote dialogue that considered negative aspects of the food chain and its effect on the community to inspire empathy and activism. Groundswell is an organisation based in New York City that brings together young people, artists, and community organisations to use art as a tool for social change. Founded in 1996 by a group of artists, educators, and activists, the organisation believes that collaborative art-making combines personal expression with the strength of community activism. Over the past 22 years, they have created over 500 murals throughout NYC. The collaborative process behind these artworks demonstrates their belief that art creates community and community creates change.Those who were included in the production of the mural include Jose Almonte, Saul Arias, Chantel Batista, Topaz Bowley, Rafael Cintron, Daniel Datix, Luisaira Duran, Kelanny Estevez,  Sarafanta Kaba, Nicole Mera, Kenneth Navarro, Rodney Nelson,  Emily Ortega, Stephanie Ortega, Aaron Osorio, Brian Perez,  Charleny Reyes, Esmerelda Rivera, Juan Vasquez, Devon Veras, Haiman Sawadogo, John Hilario Torres, Justin Valdes, Keyla Ramirez and Pamela Zambrano.Community partners that were involved in the project were Communities for Healthy Food at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, LISC New York City, New Settlement Apartments and Comprehensive Model School Project 327. The project was funded by Laurie M. Tisch and Illumination Fund. 

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Susana Trimarco Portrait

This mural is a portrait of Susana Trimarco and raises awareness of human trafficking and forced sexual exploitation. Trimarco’s daughter, Marita de los Angeles Veron, was kidnapped in Tucuman in 2002 and forced into prostitution in La Rioja. Trimarco took matters into her own hands when she suspected that the police and government officials were not doing all they could do find her daughter. She has personally led 10 searches to find her daughter by going undercover as a prostitute in bars that doubled as brothels in La Rioja. She found the phone numbers of people she believed were involved in sex trafficking, tracking them and setting up meetings to help free the girls that were being trafficked. Trimarco has survived two murder attempts because of her efforts to infiltrate sex trafficking rings and her undercover efforts have led to the rescue of 150 trafficked girls, some as young as 12 years old. In October 2007 she set up the Fundacion Marita de los Angeles to help survivors of sex trafficking – the organisation provides free legal, psychological and social support to survivors and their families. In 2008 her lobbying efforts led to human trafficking being made a federal crime in Argentina.In February 2012, 13 people, including former police officers, were put on trial for allegedly kidnapping Marita and holding her as a sex slave in brothels. In December 2012 they were acquitted of this crime as the court ruled there was no way to prove that Marita had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. This verdict led to protests across Argentina and the three judges were accused of corruption by the public. This mural was created in January 2013 to raise awareness of Marita’s case, Trimarco’s activism and the severity of sex trafficking in Argentina.

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Student Art Against Human Trafficking - Pereira

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) visited different areas of Colombia to educate children and young adults on how to recognise, report and prevent human trafficking. As part of this program, children from various schools and communities created murals to show their understanding of human trafficking and their support of modern slavery survivors. Of the 1,900 children with whom UNODC worked, the majority lived in areas where levels of prostitution and drug crimes are very high. This mural was created in Pereira, which is the capital city of the Risaralda region in the foothills of the Andes. It shows a woman on the end of puppet strings, with the phrase 'no caigas en la trampa' or 'do not fall in the trap' to the left.

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Student Art Against Human Trafficking - Medellin 1

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) visited different areas of Colombia to educate children and young adults on how to recognise, report and prevent human trafficking. As part of this program, children from various schools and communities created murals to show their understanding of human trafficking and their support of modern slavery survivors. Of the 1,900 children with whom UNODC worked, the majority lived in areas where levels of prostitution and drug crimes are very high. This mural is one of two created in Medellin, which is the second largest city in Colombia and the capital of the region of Antioquia. It shows a bird flying free after escaping modern slavery.

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Student Art Against Human Trafficking - Cartagena

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) visited different areas of Colombia to educate children and young adults on how to recognise, report and prevent human trafficking. As part of this program, children from various schools and communities created murals to show their understanding of human trafficking and their support of modern slavery survivors. Of the 1,900 children with whom UNODC worked, the majority lived in areas where levels of prostitution and drug crimes are very high. This mural was created in Cartagena, which is on the northern coast of Colombia. In 1984 its colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Student Art Against Human Trafficking - Bogota

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) visited different areas of Colombia to educate children and young adults on how to recognise, report and prevent human trafficking. As part of this program, children from various schools and communities created murals to show their understanding of human trafficking and their support of modern slavery survivors. Of the 1,900 children with whom UNODC worked, the majority lived in areas where levels of prostitution and drug crimes are very high. This mural was created in Bogota, the capital and largest city of Colombia. The piece reads 'solo tu le pones valor a tu vida', which translates to 'only you can put value on your life', with the hands below breaking the chains of slavery.

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STOP Trafficking In Persons

This mural was created in Sierra Leone by WHI (World Hope International) with FAAST (Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking). It highlights different types of slavery, including forced sexual exploitation and forced labour. The piece raises awareness of the vulnerability of migrant workers and stresses that people must be careful about accepting jobs that might sound "too good to be true".World Hope International is an organisation that works with vulnerable and exploited communities around the world. It aims to alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice, and this mural was created as part of their anti-trafficking work in Sierra Leone.WHI is a member of FAAST, an alliance of Christian organisations that are working together to combat slavery and human trafficking. Other members include Compassion First, who work with survivors, and the Salvation Army. WHI was the lead in FAAST in Sierra Leone and have helped raise awareness of modern slavery in the country.


Spot the Signs

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This mural was created to make the ASTRA hotline number more widely known in Belgrade, Serbia. Marija Andjelkovic, who works for the anti-trafficking organisation, had the idea after she saw an empty wall. After much work with the city officials, the mural was created by Kraljica Vila (TKV).ASTRA was established in 2000 and was the first anti-human trafficking organisation in Serbia. It deals with all forms of trafficking and modern slavery, focusing on direct victim assistance. They work towards the reintegration of survivors, prevention, education, public awareness raising, research and network advocacy at a strategic and operational level. They also support the building of a functional and efficient counter-trafficking system that fully respects the survivors rights.Their SOS Hotline and Direct Victim Assistance Program was launched in March 2002 and allows the public/survivors to report instances of human trafficking and modern slavery. Initially the hotline was designed to be preventative, but within a month the organisation widened its scope after receiving calls about exploitation. The hotline provides victim assistance and continues to have a preventive role by offering the public information on safe migration, employment and education outside of Serbia, as well as legal advice. By February 2017, the hotline had received more than 34,000 calls from 5370 people and of these 499 people were identified and/or freed from their exploitation.Unfortunately the mural has since been painted over by city officials.

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Sex Trafficking Awareness

This mural was completed by Joel Artista alongside students from the University of Dayton's Art Street Centre for the Sex Trafficking Awareness Project. This campagin aims to raise awareness of forced prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women and girls in the USA. Through workshops with Artista, students expressions of sex trafficking were combined with an image of the Riman goddess Proserpina. In the mural, she struggles to break free from her captor, the god of the underworld, and her mother, whose hand reaches out for her. This imagery highlights the violent and painful kidnapping and forced prostitution of thousands of girls and women, both American and foreign, across the US every year. Proserpina's struggle is also shown with writing all over the piece in different languages, with phrases such as 'desperation', 'escape', and 'wasted youth'. Joel Artista (Joel Bergner) has completed several murals against human trafficking and modern slavery. He is an artist, educator and activist who is celebrated for his antislavery artwork and murals. Artista's art is heavily influenced by his work with communities and non-profit organisations, and in 2015 he joined forces with Max Frieder to form Artolution. This community-based arts initiative empowers artists, youth and communities to be agents of positive social change and explore critical societal issues and create opportunities for constructive dialogue.

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Sex Slave

This mural was created as part of the Elementi Sotterranei Festival (the International Graffiti Festival) in Gemona del Friuli, Italy. It depicts a man trapped in a cage and a woman holding the key. In this piece, traditional roles are reversed and the woman holds power.

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Second Life

This piece was created over a year by 15 artists who came together to tell the story of the Chattanooga landscape being reborn. They were inspired to create this piece for human trafficking survivors who are a part of the non-profit organisation Second Life. The idea behind the piece is that, although the outlook for survivors can often look bleak, there is hope.Second Life  was created in 2007 and aims to end human trafficking through prevention, policy and survivor services. They provide individuals, groups and organisations in the Lower East Tennessee region with knowledge of human trafficking to enable them to be aware of signs of this phenomenon and what to do if they have suspicions. They also provide expertise and support to the private and public sectors to help make effective policies that will end human trafficking. Their services also provide aftercare to survivors and they coordinate with community resource providers to address the specific needs of individual survivors.Due to the privacy of survivors and the safeguarding measures that are in place, the exact location of the mural, in East Brainerd Tennessee, is unknown.

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Say No To Child Marriage 1

This mural is one of two created by artist ArtLords with the help of the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan. ArtLords frequently creates pieces that make political statements, including asking people to pick up a book not a gun and encouraging a transparent and accountable government. These murals highlight the importance of education for young girls and women, and condemn the practice of forced marriage. In September 2017, forced marriage was recognised as a form of modern slavery and was included in the estimates of people who are enslaved by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). At this time, there were an estimated 15.4 million people in forced marriage, and the vast majority of these are girls and women. Over a third of the people who were forced to marry were children, of whom 40% were below fifteen at the time when marriage took place. 

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Save Yazidi Women

This mural was part of the 2016 Welling Court Mural Project. The project began after members of Welling Court community met at Ad Hoc's Bushwick gallery and invited Ad Hoc Art to come up with a vision to beautify their neighbourhood. With the community's support, the first mural was created in December 2009 by M-City. The rest of the winter was used to plan the launch of the first multi-block mural project that occurred in May 2010 with over 40 murals. With a mix of artists and new talents, the Project hosts over 140 murals by artists from around the world and it is one of the most well-known collections of contemporary street art.This mural was created in response to the treatment of Yazidi women in Iraq. Thousands of Yazidi women have been kidnapped, raped and tortured by ISIS in Northern Iraq, with many forced to marry ISIS fighters and sexually exploited.

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This mural was created by James Bullough with the Handle with Care Project, a Dallas-based organisation that is dedicated to fighting slavery through the arts. They argue that graffiti and slavery have something in common - they are both done covertly and are illegal, yet when a wall is defaced it can be painted over, whereas there is no "easy solution" for the slavery survivor.'Release' is the central piece in a city-wide mural project 'Deface a Wall, Not a Body', painted at the popular retail park Trinity Grove. The birds that are released in this mural are then painted all around Dallas. They symbolise survivors being released from captivity and rebuilding their lives over time. The murals of these free birds are titled 'Flycatcher'.

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Project GOLD

In 2016 survivors of child sex trafficking who are involved with the charity Kristi House, which provides support to survivors of child sexual abuse, helped to create this mural. The charity's Project GOLD (Girls Owning their Lives and Dreams) Drop In Centre welcomes girls who have been sexually exploited and provides support to them, regardless of their current residential placement. A counsellor is also available to talk and girls can relax or study in the home-like setting. The programme is based on the Victim, Survivor, Leader model of GEMS and Project GOLD is shaped and directed by survivor input. The artist met with the survivors several times and composed drafts of images for the mural, receiving feedback and altering the images to fit with the survivors wishes. The mural is of a woman's face with many colours in her hair - this symbolises the different experiences and identities of each contributor. This project was fuelled by the use of PhotoVoice - an arts-based research methodology, where the survivors used art as a method of expression and healing. It began when Lauren Suarez stated working with Kristi House's Project GOLD in the summer of 2014. After two years of engagement, she initiated the PhotoVoice project as a research initiative to allow providers to learn more about survivors' experiences. The creation of the mural fits with Project GOLD's focus on survivors and in their goal of getting girls to own their lives and dreams. The charity also runs Project BOLD, which reaches out to boys and highly underserved, misidentified and high risk subset of sex trafficked youth in the LGBTQI community.

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Let Us Remember

In 2011, English literature students at T.C. Williams High School, Virginia, were inspired to create a mural and raise money for survivors of forced sexual exploitation. After reading Sold by Patricia McCormack, a novel about sex trafficking in India, the students wanted to do something to combat slavery.At the centre of the mural is a quote by Eli Wiesel, the writer, professor and political activist who survived the Holocaust. Surrounding the quote are the students' hand prints - for every hand-print placed on the wall, students made a $3 donation and the students raised over $100. The proceeds went to Courtney's House, an organisation that helps survivors of sex trafficking. The charity was set up in 2008 by Tina Frundt, a survivor of sex trafficking, and fights to protect children from sexual exploitation. The charity provides counselling, medical treatment, food, clothing and toiletries to survivors of sex trafficking. Erin Neff, Assistant Project Manager of Courtney’s House, visited the students and explained that the organisation's name allows survivors to say they are 'just going to Courtney's house'. Neff also told teachers that the organisation has helped survivors who have come from T.C. Williams High School, emphasising the fact that the sex trafficking of children is 'something that happens in our backyard.'

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Learn Without Fear

This mural was created by Plan International in 2010 with the help of children from the local community as part of the organisation's Learn Without Fear campaign. The campaign works to end violence in schools and ensure that children can attend school. The mural is situated on a wall near the main port on the Masbate Island in the Philippines, ensuring that visitors to the island see the mural as the disembark boats and ferries. The piece protests against human trafficking and shows scenes of children being taken away from their families in exchange for money. These children are trafficked into slavery, with images of young girls in little clothing to highlight sexual exploitation and young boys carrying sacks over their shoulders to symbolise forced labour.With this mural, Plan International tried to discourage people from sending their children to work or selling them to traffickers. Instead the organisation encourages people to send children to school and stresses that education is crucial to escaping poverty.

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Jessica's Story

Jessica is a survivor of sex trafficking - she was kidnapped at gun-point when she was 17 years old, raped and branded with a tattoo on her neck. Jessica was forced to prostitute herself and she suffered great physical, sexual and mental abuse at the hands of her pimp and countless other men. She escaped when she was 20 years old and now has a good relationship with her mother and her daughter. Jessica says she would not have made it without the help of the Mary Magdalene Project, now called Journey Out, an organisation that helps survivors of sex trafficking and/or commercial sexual exploitation. They kept her safe and ensured that no one could find her, alongside providing her with programs to help her establish a new life. The artist Lydia Emily Archibald wanted to create this mural to highlight the fact that sex trafficking is happening every day in America. She believes artwork 'can do more than hang, it can help,' and she hopes other survivors will look up at this mural and find inspiration in it. Archibald included two hummingbirds in the mural because when Jessica recounted her story, she mentioned that she loved these birds and they reminded her of her grandmother. The hummingbird at the top represents her grandmother and the one at the bottom represents her daughter, who Jessica had when she was 16 years old. The mural is situated in an area of LA where sex trafficking is prolific and the artist and her team faced abuse from locals. This corner was a popular place for drug-dealing and the painting of the mural temporarily shut down business for many dealers, leaving many unhappy at the muralists presence. Nevertheless they persisted and the mural is still there today. To watch Jessica's story and see her reaction to the unveiling of the mural, click here.