“We’ve already worked for free.”

This is how one survivor of human trafficking expressed her exasperation at being asked to speak publicly about her experience without being paid in return.  When my friend and colleague Malaika Oringo told me that this had happened to her on more than one occasion, I was pretty disturbed.

Apparently, these types of invitations are not uncommon, and what’s perhaps even more egregious is that the survivor’s presentation is often part of a larger fundraising event.  The organization hosting the event earns money, but the survivor does not.

Malaika and I talked about the issue at length and decided to see just how often survivors are asked to speak for free.  We also wanted to investigate other ways in which organizations interact with survivor’s presentations as well as with the survivors themselves.

In the end, we created a short survey that covers four areas:

payment – is fair payment offered and if not, what was the reason(s) given?

content – was the survivor pressured to stay in victim mode and talk mostly about their time being trafficked, or were they encouraged to share and/or focus on their achievements and successes?

advertising – were sensational images/phrases used to promote the speaking event?

professional and personal well being – did the organizers of the event express interest or concern about the professional and personal well being of the survivor?

Our goal is to use the data we gather to begin a conversation among the larger trafficking community and to help us promote conditions in which survivor speakers are treated as respected and valuable professionals in the anti-human trafficking field. 

If you are a survivor of sex trafficking who would like to express your opinion on this topic, please go here.

If you are an ally of sex trafficking survivors in any capacity, we would greatly appreciate you sharing the survey with survivor speakers you may know.

Thank you in advance for your participation!Malaika Oringo, survivor expert in international human trafficking, speaker and advocate for victims rights and survivor empowerment.  footprinttofreedom.org and Nancy Hardcastle, public speaking coach specializing in supporting human trafficking survivors and their allies.

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