Human trafficking survivors in Sheffield tell harrowing stories through art

This image was taken by 'Sara', not her real name, for the 'One Lens, Countless Stories' exhibition
This image was taken by 'Sara', not her real name, for the 'One Lens, Countless Stories' exhibition
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Human trafficking survivors in Sheffield have given a rare insight into their harrowing ordeals by creating a series of artworks.

Nine women who have escaped modern slavery teamed up with The Snowdrop Project, the Sheffield-based charity supporting them, to create a unique pictorial testament to both their suffering and the strength that is helping them rebuild their lives.

'Property of No One', in which the ominous shadows symbolise the creator's oppressors and how it felt to lose control of her body and her life

'Property of No One', in which the ominous shadows symbolise the creator's oppressors and how it felt to lose control of her body and her life

Between them, they created 48 images, accompanied by written pieces, providing a window into their unimaginable experiences.

The above photo, taken by 'Sara', is accompanied by a moving poem about the abuse its creator and others have endured.

"For all the violence exercised upon her," it reads.

"For all the offences you have shed on her.

"For all the insults you have laid on her.

"For her body you've been using.

"For the freedom you have denied.

"For the silencing of her voice.

"For her arms cut.

"For all of these.

"Men, stand up in front of women."

The women were each given a camera and some basic lessons in photography, before being invited to express themselves through the medium of photography.

They spent eight weeks creating the 'One Lens, Countless Stories' exhibition, paid for by the Big Lottery Fund, which briefly went on display at Sheffield's Bloc Projects gallery to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day last Wednesday.

Sam Holland, director of the Migration Matters Festival, said: "At times it was deeply saddening to see the images and accompanying words, poems and thoughts of the incredibly courageous women.

"But I mostly left inspired by the way the women/artists expressed the harrowing experience of exploitation, trafficking and navigating a cruel and convoluted asylum system."

The artworks were all created anonymously as the women cannot reveal their identities for fear of being tracked down by their former captors.