NYFW: Amber Valletta, Amanda Rodriguez, Karen Alexander Join 350+ on Model Alliance Petition
Susan Holmes McKagan, Erin Heatherton, Cindi Leive, ??Iskra Lawrence & others push NYS Legislature on Adult Survivors Act to Open Civil Lookback Window and Industry for Labor Regs
BROOKLYN, NY (09/10/2021) (readMedia)-- During New York Fashion Week (Sept. 6-12), the Model Alliance released a petition (see below) calling for systemic changes in the modeling industry, which has since garnered over 350 signatures and counting, including supermodel Amber Valetta, Susan Holmes McKagan, Karen Alexander, Cindi Leive, Amanda Rodriguez, Iskra Lawrence and other high-profile models and fashion industry leaders. The petition has also been signed by Beverly Johnson, Karen Elson, Milla Jovovich and Matrix-star Carrie Ann Moss.
The petition follows supermodel Carré Otis's trip to Paris to testify to police against her abuser: former President of Elite Europe Gérald Marie. Carre and five other survivors are all outside of the criminal statute of limitations in France. Supermodel and former First Lady of France Carla Bruni, Milla Jovovich, Tatjana Patitz, Karen Elson, Paulina Porizkova and others spoke out in support of Carré and the survivors testifying, as the New York Times reported. The petition calls for companies and agencies -- including Marie's former agency Elite, now owned by Elite World Group -- to sign onto the RESPECT Program. Last month, Carré and the Model Alliance called on Elite World Group CEO and Netflix reality star Julia Haart to respond to Carré's case filing and commit to the concrete, enforceable measures offered by the program. EWG and Haart -- who has branded herself as a champion for women on her show "My Unorthodox Life" -- have previously failed to sign on, and did not commit to doing so moving forward. The petition also calls for New York State lawmakers to pass the Adult Survivors Act, which would provide time-barred survivors who were over the age of 18 with a one-year lookback window to sue their abuser -- or the institution that protected them -- in civil court.
Sexual abuse remains rampant in the modeling industry which has been largely untouched by the #MeToo movement or any regulatory framework for working models. In response the Model Alliance -- a labor rights collective that aims to promote fair treatment, equal opportunity, and more sustainable practices in the fashion industry -- designed the RESPECT Program. The program uses legally-binding agreements to create enforceable standards and hold bad actors and enabling institutions accountable in the fashion industry. Proper oversight and regulation would significantly reduce the incidence of sexual misconduct, but in their absence, statute of limitation reform is necessary to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. While many companies have created voluntary programs with a code of conduct, the Model Alliance support line hears daily from models at the highest levels of the industry who are unable to report abuse to their agency under these types of programs for a multitude of reasons. Companies will implement those programs on a voluntary basis and therefore, hold the right to opt out of their own policy and continue business as usual. This is not a meaningful or legally-binding step towards a labor rights framework.
Carré was 17 when she was scouted and then sent from New York to Paris to live with Marie, where she was repeatedly raped by him. Marie's behavior was known throughout Elite when she was sent to France. She has standing to sue in New York, where lawmakers, recognizing the science of trauma, passed legislation known as the Child Victims Act two years ago, which provided a multi-year lookback window for survivors of child sex abuse to file a civil case against their abusers, even if they are outside of the statute of limitations. Carré filed a civil case last month against her former agent Trudi Tapscott and Marie before the window closed. New York would become the second state after New Jersey to open a civil lookback window to survivors of adult sex abuse. The state Senate passed the Adult Survivors Act in June, but the Assembly has yet to do so. The petition has also been signed by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, and Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou.
Carré, a member of the Model Alliance's Leadership Council, still models and is represented by Iconic Focus Models, an all women-owned agency.
The petition, below, is available to sign here.
SIGN THE PETITION: SUPPORT CARRÉ OTIS AND SURVIVORS IN CREATING A SAFER MODELING INDUSTRY
Sexual assault and misconduct are rampant in the modeling industry. Carré Otis's recent lawsuit against her abuser, Gérald Marie, highlights a decades' long system of traffic that demands justice.
Show your support for Carré by signing the Model Alliance's petition NOW to help time-barred survivors access justice and put protections in place to create a safer industry for all.
First, New York lawmakers must pass the Adult Survivors Act to let survivors who were 18 or older at the time of their abuse and are now outside the statute of limitations come forward to seek justice through the civil courts.
Second, we demand that agencies, brands, fashion powerhouses like Elite World Group and others sign onto the Model Alliance's one-of-a-kind RESPECT Program to commit to workers' rights and an environment free of abuse. The RESPECT Program is the only existing accountability program designed by and for models. Under RESPECT, signatory companies make a legally binding, enforceable commitment to require their employees and contractors to follow a code of conduct that protects everyone's safety on the job.
The industry that allowed and enabled serial abusers like Marie is still the same industry: One that lacks regulation, escapes accountability, and normalizes trafficking -- all off the backs of young women and men. It's time to ensure that everyone in this industry can work in a safe environment, free from harm, with access to justice.
Alessandra Biaggi, New York State Senator
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez
Bradley James Falconer
Carrie Ann Moss
Greg Asbed, Co-Founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Gwen Van Meir
Julia Schwadron Marianelli
Matthew Charles Sutton
Sarah Spinner, PsyD
Theresa Haas, Director of Transnational Strategies, WSR Network
Yuh-Line Niou, New York State Assemblymember
About the RESPECT Program
Born of the direct experience and unique understanding that models have of the industry, the RESPECT Program is the first-of-its-kind initiative, designed to enable a working environment in which creative collaboration and self-expression flourish, and everyone can work without fear of harassment, abuse, discrimination or violence. Unlike other industry programs that rely on voluntary self-regulation, the RESPECT Program uses legally-binding agreements to create enforceable standards and hold bad actors and enabling institutions accountable.
Hailed by the United Nations and Harvard Business Review, the worker-driven social responsibility approach used by the RESPECT Program requires the following from participating companies, brands and agencies:
- Implement a rigorous Code of Conduct to protect models from harassment and abuse.
- Train models, staff, and other contractors to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under the Program, including how to bring complaints if they experience abuse.
- Sign a legally-binding agreement with the Model Alliance to ensure compliance with the Program's standards. Serious repeated violations will result in companies terminating their business relationships with the offending individual.
- Ensure all models are paid for their work in a timely manner, without unreasonable fees and with transparency concerning any and all wage deductions
The Program includes an independent, transparent enforcement body to monitor the workplace and address complaints of harassment, as well as a safe, confidential and accessible complaint mechanism, which models can use without fear of retaliation.