Impose a minimum age of 18 for models in the UK

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In 2017 a 14 year old girl named Vlada Dzyuba passed away in China, where she was on a 3 month modelling contract. She died from 'meningitis compounded by severe exhaustion' after working 13 hour days. Her death brings to light how children are effectively trafficked across the globe under the lure of modelling.

There are NO laws regulating children modelling in the UK and anybody can scout them, tell them to lose weight, sign them up to an agency and send them out to work for free. Many children start modelling under the age of 18 as they have the pre-pubescent bodies favoured by the fashion industry and are exploited due to their lack of knowledge about the industry. 

Children are working in fully fledged, adult careers as a result - running their own business in the eyes of the law, not even receiving the basic protection that employees enjoy.

Models sign over their legal capacity to model agents yet remain fully legally liable themselves. Untrained strangers hold their entire lives in their hands, with the ability to sign contracts and spend money on their behalf, even sending them to live across the world with no accountability to the model at all. Contrastingly, aspiring models are paying thousands of pounds every day to fraudulent model agencies in the hope of becoming signed.

Self regulation of the fashion industry clearly does not work - as can be seen by the recent demise of the Association of Model Agents. Codes of Conduct lack proper enforcement procedures and are often established by those directly profiting off models, such as clients or agents. Even with proper education, models are still being lured into exploitative contracts as the industry is so uniquely glamourised and unregulated.

This is a call to the government to step in, to protect vulnerable children who do not possess real capacity to enter into the profession where their bodies will be traded. To protect those who are manipulated into signing unfair contracts, enslaved to exploitative agencies and trafficked around the world to pay off their debts. The children who have no protection by virtue of being ‘self employed’ yet cannot even have a sick day from work without being held legally liable. 

The UK government is called upon to set a minimum age of 18 to join a model agency in ANY capacity.