Modern Day slaves for sale on Oxford Street

published on 14 Oct 2015

On Tuesday 13th October, to mark Anti-Slavery Day 2015, The Salvation Army surprised shoppers on Oxford Street with a dramatic representation of a market stall selling ‘people’ as commodities - based on real life stories of victims of modern slavery supported by The Salvation Army. Eight people were offered on sale to passing members of the public and information was given to shoppers and office workers on how to spot the signs that someone is being trafficked and what they can do to help.

The Salvation Army was appointed by the Government in July 2011 to provide support services to adult victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in England and Wales. Since then The Salvation Army and its partners have supported nearly 3,000 victims of modern slavery to help these vulnerable people set out along the long path to recovering from these horrendous crimes.

Shoppers stopped in surprise at this unusual retail offering but once the purpose of the stunt was understood the reaction was generally favourable with many saying they hadn’t realised that people still lived in slave-like conditions in the UK today. One passer-by who congratulated the team on their efforts to raise awareness was a survivor of modern slavery from the Czech Republic who was grateful to The Salvation Army for giving him support when he was rescued.


The Salvation Army’s Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Major Anne Read said: 

“There are 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.”

On sale on Tuesday 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.

The sale continues at lunchtime on Wednesday 14th at on Oxford Street at the junction with Market Court. 

*Names and details changed to protect identities but based on real stories.