Three ‘slave’ women held for 30 years rescued from South London : worldleaks
Three women have been rescued from decades of slavery in London, with one spending her entire life of 30 years under the control of her captors, in a case that has shocked the capital and sparked calls for new anti-slavery laws.
Last month a 57-year-old Irish woman called the Freedom Charity helpline after watching a objective about forced and minor marriages in Britain.
All three women, who were highly traumatised, were taken to a place of safety where they remain.
She claimed to have been held against her will in a house in Lambeth for more than 30 years, with two other women.
The charity passed the information on to the Metropolitan Police, and investigators worked with the charity to maintain contact with the women and locate them.
On Friday, October 25, the Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman met charity workers and detectives, who swayed them it was safe to leave. Police then went to their home and found a 69-year old Malaysian woman.
The women were said to be “highly traumatised” and are now in professional care. There was no evidence of sexual abuse.
A man and a woman, aged 67 and described as “not British”, were arrested in Lambeth in South London on Thursday morning, on suspicion of being involved in forced labour and domestic servitude. At the time of writing they were being interviewed at a South London police station.
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from Scotland Yard’s Human Trafficking Unit, said the 30-year-old woman spent her whole life under the control, or in the company of, her captors. It was not clear whether she had been born in the house, or brought in from outside.
Though there was some measure of “controlled freedom” for the three women and they lived within a normal community, they were basically domestic slaves, forced to work for their captors. Police said they had never seen a case of this magnitude before, in terms of the length of captivity.
The Metropolitan Police delayed arresting the suspects while they “established the facts”, they said in a statement.
“The human trafficking unit of the Metropolitan Police deals with many cases of servitude and forced labour. We have seen some cases where people have been held for up to 10 years, but we have never seen anything of this magnitude before.”
Aneeta Prem, beginner of the Freedom Charity, told Sky News the women had been handled as domestic slaves. While they wanted help from the charity “they felt they were in massive danger” from their captors, whom she called the “heads of the family”, so their leaving the house was designed carefully and secretly with police on standby.
“I don’t believe the neighbours knew anything about it at all. It was just an ordinary house in an ordinary street. They were very restricted on everything they could do,” Ms Prem said.
MP Frank Field, from the Human Trafficking Foundation, called for a modern slavery law and practical action.
A spokesman for Home Secretary Therese May said she was “shocked by this appalling case” and has “made clear her determination to tackle the scourge of modern slavery”.
In August, Mrs May promised an anti-slavery crackdown, with new laws aimed at slave “gangmasters”, and the creation of a slavery commissioner.
“It has been a profound shock to discover the extent to which slavery has reappeared in our country,” Mrs May said in August. “We can and we will eliminate it.”
The fate of the women evoked memories of lengthy abductions in the United States and Austria.
In the United States, old bus driver Ariel Castro was convicted in August of the abduction, torture and decade-long confinement of three women. He was found hanged in his cell at an Ohio prison in September.
That followed two infamous cases in Austria.
Natascha Kampusch was found in 2006 after being kidnapped at the age of 10 by Wolfgang Priklopil and held captive for eight years.
In 2009, Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life after keeping his daughter Elisabeth captive in a cellar for 24 years and fathering seven children with her.
Last month, the first Global Slavery Index revealed there were nearly 30 million people living as slaves in 162 countries and that Britain was not immune to the problem.
Although ranked 160th on the list, there were even estimated to be more than 4000 slaves in Britain, an guess that the index judged to be conservative.
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