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Stef

"I took this photo because it’s my shoes. I separated them and if you watch carefully it’s two different shoes. One is rotten and the other it’s a little bit new. It signifies my feet, and my feet signify my journey—one behind and one ahead. The one behind represents back then—Nigeria, Libya—it was so horrible, and that’s why you see that rotten shoe. If you check properly, the colour, the way it is, shows it was so… It’s something that reminds me of so much pain and it’s hard. It has to be behind me. The one at the front is life—this is my current stay in Europe. You understand, it’s a step I have to take: one behind and one in the front." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Stef, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Omo Colis

"Back in Nigeria anytime I wanted to pluck mango, this is how I pluck it. I had a farm from when I was 13 years old. My grandmother gave me the land because no money, no one go to school. So they give me the land. I cleared the land, plant cassava, plant mango. I went there to harvest it, then I sell it and get some money so I will take care of my brother, pay for his school fees. That is why I hold this tree. Anytime I see this picture I will remember. The land was far. Maybe if I didn’t have anything to do at home I would go to the farm, clear it there, clean the farm. I use cassava to make fufu or fry gari. Then I do palm oil. So from there we sold them. After that there is not a lot of money... even the land, if I plant fruit nothing will go well. So someone came in order to help me, so that I can go to school and a lot of things. From there they took me, this person, I didn’t even know that he want to sell me at Libya. Then he sell me from there, then another person sell me." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Omo Colis, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Efe Bella

"This how we sit when we are transported. This is how we sit in Libya; we don’t go out. In the truck. Always. In the Lampadusa [boat] this is how we sit for the whole journey. They are moving you from here to here, and this is how you have to sit, so many people together. In this position it is very bad. It is like being a slave. In the boat, if I had fallen in I would never had survived." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Efe Bella, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Okungbowa Osamude

"That wall reminds me of those days when we were in Libya, of the prison I told you about, how we can’t escape. We have to see the brightness of the sun through a hole, and even money cannot pass through that hole. Nothing can pass through it. It’s under the gate and the men give us biscuits, just something that will sustain us for that day. It was not easy. I told you how I was trafficked, how I was being kidnapped. They were asked for ransom to pay back, a huge ransom. It was more than the money that we bring. The emotion of the building, the way that I took the picture, it shows that it’s a prison, it’s where people have been trapped. You’ll just be there, not going out. No food, nothing. So that’s what the building reminds me a lot about. It’s really important, it’s one of my favourites." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Okungbowa Osamude, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Greatness, self-portrait

"In desert there is no house. You can’t see house in desert. We just sleep outside. Back then they would load us like 50, 20, in the Helios [truck]. There would not be space for you to stand or move. So anybody that fall down, they are not going to wait for him, that person will just die there. Because of the sand there is no water, no food. We spent the nights on the sand, it was very very cold. Back home in Nigeria the sand is very good. There is no cold, no hot. Very good. We do spread clothes on it, and sleep on it. We don’t need to go inside because the sand will be okay." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy.   Photo: self-portrait, Greatness, courtesy of Voice of Freedom. 

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Gloria

"Many of us, and almost all of us, have passed through too many temptations in life, too many struggles and trials—the trip here, how difficult it is. Libya is hell… the sun… we are in prison. But being out of that Libya is to testify that we are now free from that place. So I took this picture as a bond of consolation. We were trafficked, and the anti-traffickers giving us the hope that they are going to deal with these issues." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Gloria, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Emmanuel Joyce

"This is an iron that many people use to iron clothes. But there is another thing they use the iron for. Most of the madames that brought guests to Europe used the same iron to maltreat people, especially women that are trafficked—they use this iron on them when they get refused to pay their money. Even a friend of mine, she showed me her back where her madame plugged the iron and press it on her back. It is very bad for a woman to use an iron that is plugged, to put it on someone’s body, all in the name of money." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Emmanuel Joyce, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Sarah Oluwatimileyin

"I love this picture because whenever I look at her personally I look at her as my childhood friend. There is a friend like that, not she, but they look alike so much. We were brought up together, her name is Dami. The church I attend, her dad is the owner of the church, my dad is the second in charge of the church and that is how they brought us together when we were two years old. Later, her mum and dad broke up and her mum left and her dad married another wife who started maltreating them. Suddenly Dami just got missed—they were like, ‘Dami has travelled, travelled to abroad,’—this and that. Meanwhile, later we find out that they took her to one village for slavery—her dad sold her for slavery so she can bring money. There was no money so that is why they sold the girl." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Sarah Oluwatimileyin, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Tessy Gold

"This picture shows I am going through a lot of pains, back there in Nigeria. I lost both my parents in a motor accident when I was 13 years old. I was taken back to the village to stay with grandmum because my uncles sold my parents’ house. Only a male child can take property and my younger brother was too small to do anything. I couldn’t finish my education any more. My auntie came and she said she want to take me to the city to live with her. She woke me up at 5am to clean the house—she just treat me like a slave because she is not my biological mum. She wake me up to do everything, to cook, look after her kid, everything. One day my auntie asked me to leave the house and I went back to my grandmum—we hardly eat, there was no money. So my grandmum came home with this idea that there is a lady in France, she want to come and pick me from Nigeria to Europe so she can help me further my education. Hearing that, I was so happy that maybe I could take care of my younger brother, as he is the only family I have left. My grandmum took me to a park—a man collected us, and that is how I got to Libya." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Tessy Gold, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Unity Jay

"Back there at the house I saw how people struggle to survive. There is no work. They are building houses to look for daily bread. Then they have to mix the cement like this. In Nigeria there is no machine. We use hands to mix. This helps people who are working, so that at the end of the day they can pay their money so they can feed for themselves. That is why I snapped this picture to remember how they used to work. I made cement—I was little, when I was in secondary school at the age of 14." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Unity Jay, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Hands Off!

Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) worked with The Advocacy Lab, Project Futures Global, Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF), Subway Art History, students fom the Wings Academy and the South Bronx Community Association to create this mural, which is dedicated to the anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam. The mural itself reads 'Somaly Mam' in graffiti style. It is in the South Bronx neighbourhood in New York. 

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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.

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Slaves...Other Stories

This mural in Buenos Aires was part of a series organised by Red Mundial Juvenil Argentina, Vínculos en Red and Art Emprende. Painted in a small square Plaza la Victoria, the murals depict different kinds of violence, abuse and exploitation that children and teenagers suffer. On 19th September 2015 an event was held to unveil the murals, with artistic and recreational workshops about child abuse and the maltreatment of children.This piece was completed by antislavery activist Alicia Peressutti, who has written several novels based on the accounts of those who have survived trafficking, prostitution and abuse. She fights to make the stories of these survivors heard and believes this is vital for the eradication of modern slavery.

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Together We Can End Human Trafficking

This mural was created by Joel Artista in collaboration with Artolution, Meridian International Center, Shakti Vahini and the US Consulate in Kolkata. It raises awareness of modern slavery in West Bengal and hopes to educate people on human trafficking and enlist their help to end slavery.The piece was part of 'Shanti Arts for Action' by Artolution, a community-based public art organisation that seeks to ignite positive social change through collaborative art making. This project engaged young people in slum communities, street children, those in drug rehabilitation and survivors of human trafficking. The mural was inspired by a photograph that was taken by Brooke Shaden when she worked with Kolata Sanved, an organisation that helps survivors of trafficking with dance therapy. Shaden partnered with the women and the girls to create a series of photographic self-portraits in which they each chose a pose that they felt represented their stories. Sangeeta portrayed herself having her ankle gripped by a menacing hand, while she reached toward another hand for support. When Kolata Sanved collaborator Laura Price showed Artista this photograph, he was moved by the image and the story behind it, and received permission to use it as the central figure in the mural.The sari of the main figure depicts many of the main issues around modern slavery along with images from Bengali folkloric art. On the opening day of the International Anti-Human Trafficking Conclave there was an event, with dancers who are survivors of trafficking. This mural and the events surrounding it place survivors at the centre of their efforts.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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Deprivation of Liberty

"Whenever the lady of the house left, she would lock me up for hours in the veranda, with only one small bottle of water.” – Woman from Morocco This picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Deprivation of Liberty, courtesy of PAG-ASA

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Unhealthy Working Conditions

“Working without protection nor special working attire ; today I have difficulty breathing.” – Man from Morocco This picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Unhealthy Working Conditions, courtesy of PAG-ASA

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Inhuman Working Conditions

"I didn’t have any force left, but I did not have a choice but to carry on.” – Man from MoroccoThis picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Inhuman Working Conditions, courtesy of PAG-ASA

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Loneliness

“Often alone and sad, only religion remained to comfort me.” – Woman from Ivory Coast This picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Loneliness, courtesy of PAG-ASA

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Violence

“Whenever I didn’t do what the client asked, I would get punished with the whip. Still today I have traces on my body.” – Woman from Nigeria This picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Violence, courtesy of PAG-ASA

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Fear

“In the house where I was working, I was always afraid. At night, I covered my bed with garlic and cross for protection.” – Woman from Ivory Coast This picture is part of PAG-ASA’s Photo-Voice project, which aims to give a voice to the human trafficking victims living in our shelter. For victims, explaining what they have been through is a complicated and distressing experience; the feeling that words are not enough is often overwhelming. 11 victims worked with us to create these photos. Each picture depicts an image and a message they wanted to convey. Each picture gives a glimpse of their personal experience and shows what it means to be a victim of human trafficking. The victims are present in every picture, both emotionally and physically, as they envisioned and interpreted them. Their stories are therefore an important means not only to raise awareness on human trafficking, but also to transmit a powerful message of strength.Photo: Fear, courtesy of PAG-ASA