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Survivors of modern slavery as anti-slavery leaders

May 2, 2018

The Survivor Alliance, a new anti-slavery NGO, recently launched to help unite and empower survivors of human trafficking and slavery around the world. The Survivor Alliance brings together a community of people who have overcome modern slavery and human trafficking and provides them with a professional network of their peers, a platform to connect across time zones and geographies, and opportunities to consult in the anti-slavery movement.

We have created the Survivor Alliance to support survivors who are actively engaged in anti-slavery efforts as NGO leaders, authors, artists and trainers. We want to provide a forum where survivor leaders will support one other in their leadership and professional development.

Currently, support for survivors of modern slavery and trafficking is focused on their immediate needs, such as housing and other practicalities. There is so much more to post-slavery support than basic services. We work with survivors who are creating meaning and purpose through their community activism and civic engagement.

Freedom is more than the moment of exit from slavery. Freedom is an ongoing journey and process. We want to invite survivors of slavery around the world to share their expertise with each other and to galvanize our collective voices to fight slavery. We want our allies and the public to see us as more than traumatized people. We are anti-slavery leaders.

Survivors of slavery and human trafficking can enrol at the Survivor Alliance to become members for free. Resources for members include:

  • Free consultation on their resume and bio.
  • An online space where survivors can see where members of the Alliance are located around the world, what types of expertise each person has and what types of leadership support or resources people need.
  • A consulting referral service, which will begin with an online listing of specific survivor consulting opportunities.

In partnership with other experts from the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, the Survivor Alliance is supported by internationally renowned survivor leaders who sit on a board of directors.

With my recent service on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, I have witnessed the power of survivor voices when heard by senior government officials. Survivors can feel the impact of their actions by creating real-time change for others. Not only is this empowering to the individual, it builds a sense of community and belonging among survivors.

When the Alliance launched on 23 April, Professor Zoe Trodd, Director of the Rights Lab, said: “The Alliance is a pioneering new survivor-led organisation that will push the anti-slavery movement into its next phase of development. Every successful social movement has required the voices of those whose lives are deeply affected by injustice. The Alliance provides a key solution that is currently missing from the contemporary anti-slavery movement: a survivor-driven institution that moves survivors from being occasional spokespeople to strategic thinkers and movement leaders.

“The Rights Lab’s commitment is that everything we do is survivor-informed and in collaboration with survivor-leaders. We are very excited to collaborate with the Alliance’s members, whose ideas will shape progress towards ending slavery in our lifetime.”

The Rights Lab is a University of Nottingham Beacon of Excellence that brings together over 100 scholars to deliver research that helps to end global slavery by 2030.

Minh Dang leads the Survivor Alliance and is one of its founders. She has provided training and technical assistance to NGOs, universities and government agencies across the U.S. and the UK for over a decade.  Her PhD is studying the well-being of survivors of human trafficking and slavery. She is a devoted advocate for survivors of child abuse and human trafficking and is developing strategies to support education, training, and leadership development for survivors.

Written by
Minh Dang