Three women have been rescued by police after thirty years of domestic slavery in a south London house. Two arrests have been made.
The women were freed after one contacted a charity some weeks ago, but it was only on Thursday morning that two suspects, a 67-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman, were arrested and taken to a police station. Police said that neither of them were British and they may be “part of a criminal network.”
The pair were later “bailed until a date in January pending further enquiries,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.
A 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman had all been held in what the police believe was “domestic servitude” in the house in Lambeth, south London. The youngest of the three women had apparently been held all her life.
The arrests came as part of a slavery investigation launched after one of the captives contacted Freedom Charity in October to say she was being held against her will, along with two others. The charity, which promotes awareness of child abuse, forced marriages and honor killings contacted to the police.
Police said the Irish woman “found the courage to call” the charity after seeing a BBC documentary about forced marriages. Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity said there were then secret, “in-depth” telephone conversations with the women. The woman’s calls were traced by police to a south London house and on 25 October two of the captive women agreed to meet at an another location, police said.
The freed women identified the house where they had been held and police then went in and rescued the Malaysian woman.
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit, said: “these were deeply traumatised people, and it is essential that we work sensitively to establish the facts in this case. When we had established the facts, we conducted the arrests this morning.”
“Our unit deals with many cases every year but has never unearthed such a staggering example of people held against their will for their whole life time,” Hyland added.
jm/av (AP, AFP)