John Parra / Getty Images
Karen Belz
May 17, 2018 2:33 pm

A new initiative in the works will protect models from sexual misconduct in the fashion industry. The program, RESPECT, was started by an advocacy group called Model Alliance. It allows models to anonymously report sexual harassment and assault. This will add a layer of protection and create a safe space for coming forward and speaking the truth.

Edie Campbell, Milla Jovovich, and Karen Elson are just three of the 100 women who joined the alliance. They signed an open letter calling for a legally binding contract that will hold abusers accountable for sexually inappropriate behavior.

“As models, our images serve a commercial purpose, but our bodies remain ours. Agreeing to be photographed or filmed as professional representatives of a product or brand does not constitute agreement to be groped, fondled, involuntarily disrobed or worse,” the open letter reads. “Designed by models and their allies, RESPECT provides an industry-wide blueprint for protecting models and their colleagues from harassment.”

"RESPECT also recognizes that sexual harassment does not exist in a vacuum — models are often body-shamed and bullied, pressured to lose weight and jeopardize their health in order to book jobs, or to work in debt to their agencies and remain silent even when paid late, or not paid at all, for their work. RESPECT will go beyond addressing specific acts of sexual harassment, and also seek to foster a work environment that is no longer fertile ground for abuse."

Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff believes that the interest to make real change is there.

She also hopes to get companies on board to support the initiative as well.

"It’s a way for individual companies to make sure that they’re compliant and there are real consequences for people who abuse their power," Ziff told The Cut. "If you have these lofty standards but there are no consequences for violating them, you’ll see the same problems over and over again."

We applaud Ziff for making such an important change. Nobody should ever feel unsafe at work.

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