In a shocking turn of events, three women have been rescued by police from a house in south London where they had apparently been kept in “domestic slavery” for around three decades. All three were said to be “highly traumatized.”
According to Scotland Yard, a 30 year old British woman is thought to be the youngest of the captives and had possibly had no contact with the outside world in her whole life. The two other women were a 69 year old Malaysian woman and a 57 year old Irish woman. There does not appear to be any relationship between the three women.
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland of the Human Trafficking Unit, said that two suspects have been arrested on Thursday, a man and a woman, both 67 years old, at a house in the Lambeth Borough of London.
According to Hyland, all three of the women, who were in a highly traumatized state, were immediately taken to a place of safety.
He said that while his unit has dealt with many cases of forced labor and servitude in the past, with people held for up to 10 years, this particular incident is the worst yet, with the youngest captive appearing to have been in servitude for her entire life. They have never seen anything of this magnitude in the past.
Reportedly the three women had some “controlled freedom” and one of them managed to phone Freedom Charity, an organization that works on forced marriage issues, and then began plotting their escape.
The woman who called said that they were watching a documentary on TV about forced marriage which mentioned the work of the charity and which gave her the idea to call.
According to the founder of Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem, the woman phoned Freedom Charity in secret as “they felt like they were in massive danger.”
Prem explained that the three women were under the impression that they could not leave the house, due to their fear of the two suspects holding them, adding that the three women were effectively kept in “domestic slavery”.
The rescue, which started in October, took around a week to complete, as the women had to be reassured in secret phone calls that it was the police calling, that everything was OK and that it would be safe for them to leave the house.
Freedom Charity then worked with the police to help get the women out of the house, resulting in the London police finally being able to rescue the three women from slavery.
Reportedly the two suspects acted as the “heads of the family” and the three women were terrified of them. The women appear to have suffered both mental and physical abuse during their slavery, but there does not appear to have been any indications of sexual abuse.
According to neighbors, the suspect couple seemed just like anyone else, a normal couple, who just apparently kept to themselves. The house itself was nondescript and showed nothing out of the ordinary. The neighbors were shocked to hear what had been happening so close to their homes.
The story brings to mind the case in the USA of former bus driver, Ariel Castro, who had confined three women for a decade of abduction and torture. Castro was found hanged in his Ohio prison cell in September this year.
After the rescue by police the three women, who had been in domestic slavery, are now in a place of safety in London and are doing remarkably well, according to Prem, adding that “this will be a very long haul for them to try to return to a normal life.”
By: Anne Sewell