Three Women Rescued from Alleged Servitude in London
(LONDON) -- The three "extremely traumatized" women rescued Thursday from alleged servitude in a London home had been held against their will for at least 30 years, police said. The youngest, a 30-year-old British woman, is believed to have spent her entire life in servitude, police said, although it's unclear exactly where she was born. None of the women are related and there is no evidence of sexual abuse, police said.
Police removed them from a south London home after one of them had telephoned a charity to say she had been held against her will for more than 30 years. The alleged captives -- a Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and the British woman -- had some "limited freedom" but police say the women spent much of the past 30 years inside the house. Scotland Yard officials say they had "never seen anything of this magnitude before."
The police Human Trafficking Unit Thursday morning arrested two suspects, a 67-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman, at their home in south London as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude. "We applaud the actions of Freedom Charity and are working in partnership to support these victims who appear to have been held for over 30 years," Det. Insp. Kevin Hyland of the trafficking unit said. "A television documentary on forced marriages relating to the work of Freedom Charity was the catalyst that prompted one of the victims to call for help and led to their rescue." The woman phoned the charity last month, but it's unclear why police waited to act and why the charity had to participate in their release. The women were "basically domestic slaves," Aneeta Prem of Freedom Charity told the BBC. Prem also told Sky News that the alleged victims were able to walk out of the house after receiving help from the charity. "We started in-depth to talks to them when they could. It had to be pre-arranged," Prem said. "They gave us set times when they were able to speak to us. It was planned that they would be able to walk out of the property. The police were on standby."
The two suspects are considered the "heads of the family," Prem said, adding that the rescued women believed they were in "massive danger" and were "absolutely terrified." The Freedom Charity is a UK-based organization that aims to "raise awareness and prevent child abuse, keeping children safe," according to its website.
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