Dec 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – From chains to scarred backs, sensationalised images used to raise awareness of modern slavery risk doing more harm than good because they misrepresent the problem, researchers said on Monday.
In fact, most modern slavery networks rely more on psychological methods of coercion than on physical violence or restraint, according to a study by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which researches the global problem.
Such images also risk retraumatising survivors, said the study, released on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on Monday.
Author Emily Brady said misrepresentations of modern slavery hampered efforts to educate the public on what to look out for.
“All they will be seeing are victims who are physically restrained or hunched over a bed or table, often holding their face in their hands to signify distress,” said Brady, a research associate with the Rights Lab.
“Over time these images can also make people less sensitive to the harm endured by enslaved people because they become the new norm,” she added, calling for survivors to be more involved in selecting images to avoid potentially harmful stereotypes.
The study, Photographing Modern Slavery, looked at common themes in images of modern slavery used in government and charity reports. Some, including the Walk Free Foundation – the Australia-based group behind the Global Slavery Index – were noted for their use of positive images.
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