On Thursday 17 October, the eve of Anti-Slavery Day 2013, The Salvation Army engaged people on their way to work and tourists in London with a dramatic representation of a market stall selling ‘people’ as commodities - based on real life stories of victims of human trafficking supported by The Salvation Army.
Outside The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters next to the Millennium Bridge, five people were offered on sale to passing members of the public along with information on how to spot the signs that someone is being trafficked and what they can do to help.
[Read more: The Salvation Army and Anti-Human Trafficking]
The Salvation Army was appointed in July 2011 by the Ministry of Justice to provide support services to adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales. In two years The Salvation Army and its partners have supported more than 900 victims of trafficking to help these vulnerable people set out along the long path to recovering from these horrendous crimes.
The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Response co-ordinator, Major Anne Read said: “There are still many people who still don’t realise that human trafficking is taking place all around us; in our local communities; perhaps round the corner from where they live and that they can play a role in stamping it out. The Salvation Army wants to help people understand what to look for and what support is available. It is vital that nominated first responders, members of the public and victims themselves are reassured that there is an effective, secure system to support victims the moment they gain freedom from their traffickers.”
Victims' Minister Damian Green said: "Today's message is clear. Across the UK criminals are profiting from human misery. Don't just walk past - if you believe that someone is being trafficked please come forward. It's right that each of us do our duty and help put criminals behind bars. "I am proud that this Government is standing strong against those who traffic men, women and children and last year gave £3 million to support those who have suffered at their hands."
People are encouraged to look for the signs that someone they come across living nearby or working perhaps in a shop, on a farm or a building site, is not there of their own free will; looks underfed, perhaps unwell or injured; frightened; not communicating; living in overcrowded housing.
If anyone considers themselves to be a victim of trafficking and are in need of assistance; or are a nominated First Responder; or simply a concerned individual, who comes into contact with some-one they suspect may be a victim of trafficking and in need of assistance, they are encouraged to call The Salvation Army’s 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038151 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On sale were the following individuals whose stories are based on people who have been helped by The Salvation Army.35-year-old Nick* from the UK who, homeless having lost his job in the economic downturn, was exploited to provide cheap labour and held against his will. 60-year-old Tomas* from the Czech Republic who came to England when his wife died with an offer of work which turned out to be exploitation in factories and farms. 23-year-old Joy* from Nigeria whose job as a hairdresser was actually enforced prostitution with threats against herself and her family if she didn’t comply. 20-year-old Dianne* from Romania trafficked to be sexually exploited when she was tricked into accepting what she thought was a good job in a shop to help support her parents. 35-year-old Belvie* from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was beaten, chained and forced to work long hours in domestic servitude.