Voice of Freedom is a participatory photography project for formerly trafficked women in Israel, Ethiopia and the UK. The project enables the women to document their lives, feelings and experiences through the camera lens, and supports them as they create texts in their own words to accompany the images. Exhibitions of the women’s words and photography have taken place in the UK, and are planned for Tel Aviv. A book of their work will raise awareness of the broader issue of modern-day slavery. We will continue work with some of the women on their return to Ethiopia, and enable them to work in their home communities as activists and educators with other young people at risk of trafficking.
The first Voice of Freedom workshops took place at the Ma’agan Safe House for trafficked women in Petach Tikva, Israel, in October 2013 – you can see powerful work created by the women here. The safe house shelters women who were trafficked to Israel, and who have now escaped. Some of the women who live there have given evidence against their former captors, as well as suffering traumatic and violent journeys at the hands of traffickers through Sudan and the Sinai desert.
Voice of Freedom exhibited work at Junction Eleven studios, London, in November 2013; and at The London Art Fair in January 2014. Amnesty International UK hosted a major exhibition of work from the project from 16 April to 13 May, 2014. In January 2015 Anti-Slavery International shared work from the project on its website, giving women on the project a voice worldwide. In April 2015 global anti-trafficking campaigners Walk Free shared work from Voice of Freedom on its Facebook page, reaching an audience of more than six million people.
We are now working in London, in partnership with the Helen Bamber Foundation, with a group of women from Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Albania and China – all of whom escaped slavery and are going on to build new lives. Work from this phase of the project was exhibited in February 2015 at Matrix Chambers, a barristers’ set in London specialising in human rights. The Helen Bamber Foundation has showcased work from project here.
Voice of Freedom is run in partnership with UK charity PhotoVoice, and works within the discipline of participatory photography – a recognised tool for advocacy and social activism. Participatory photography refers to projects where participants are supported to generate their own photographic work – a facilitator works with a group of people, often marginalised and/or disadvantaged, and teaches them to use a camera with the aim of supporting them to define, communicate and improve their situation.