In the aftermath of the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse lobbied against Harvey Weinsten, other industries have been moved to take stock of their own history of abusive behavior towards women. The modeling industry in particular — which has also found itself involved with Weinstein — has finally started to take stock of the abuse that has been rumored about for decades, but without yielding any change or response.
The latest move comes from New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and the Model Alliance, who have proposed an amendment to anti-discrimination laws to protect models on the job. While their agencies serve more as advisory guilds than anything, models have gone without formal security and protection for decades, working as independent contractors through their agencies. This means that, at least in most cases, neither party has ever been liable for whatever happens to models while they're working.
Essentially, the amendment would set in place protections for models that didn't exist before, such as explicit contacts to report misconduct (given to them beforehand), and ramifications for those who behave outside of the appropriate guidelines as clearly stated in New York's anti-discrimination laws. As told to the Times, the goal, according to Rozic, is to "push back on the silence that has been so pervasive and find a legislative solution to change the cycle." In 2012, Rozic became the youngest woman to be elected to state legislature when she was 26 years old..
Following the Weinstein reports, model Cameron Russell developed the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse, and devoted her Instagram to models who anonymously wanted to share their experiences of abuse but didn't have a place to do so. And Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance, has devoted her post-modeling life to improving the professional lives of models. In 2009, her documentary Picture Me featured one of the first public allegations against famed fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Years later, more allegations of sexual misconduct by Richardson were brought forth without consequence, as Richardson still works for publications like Harper's Bazaar and Rolling Stone among others.
It's the hopes of Rozic, Ziff, and Russell that legislation is passed to protect models just as any other person in the workplace. "There has been a sense that simply speaking out is enough. It’s an important first step, but it does not solve the problem. If there aren’t basic legal protections in place, than real change does not occur," Ziff told the Times. Rozic hopes to pass the bill by June of 2018, so it can be signed into law by the end of the year.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).