The youngest of the three, a 30-year-old Brit, had never had contact with the outside world. Two suspects were arrested Thursday at their home in South London, and include a man and woman, both aged 67. They are from India and Tanzania, and moved to the UK in the 1960’s. They have both been granted bail until January, but their passports have been seized.
According to USA Today:
The three women, including a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and a 57-year-old Irish woman, were rescued from a residence in London’s Lambeth Borough on Oct. 25 by detectives from Scotland Yard’s Human Trafficking Unit. Police said the victims are not believed to be related to each other, the Daily Mirror reported.
“All three women, who were highly traumatized, were taken to a place of safety where they remain,” Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the Human Trafficking Unit, told reporters.
Hyland said his unit had dealt with many cases of servitude and forced labor before, including people held as long as 10 years, “but we have never seen anything of this magnitude before.”
He said he is not sure where the youngest captive was born “but she appears to have been in servitude for her entire life.”
They were rescued after one of them called Freedom Charity, an NGO that works on issues involving forced marriages, after seeing a documentary on TV about it. The rescue operation was originally set into motion in October, and took about a week to complete. The women had to be convinced it was safe to leave the house.
The founder of Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem, said they were kept in “domestic slavery” and felt like they weren’t allowed to leave the house because they were afraid of the suspects.
“One of they key things that has come up is that these three ladies were absolutely terrified by these people,” she told Sky News, saying the two suspects appeared to have acted as “the heads of the family.”
They appear to have been through beatings and brainwashing ; However, there has been no indication of sexual abuse during their captivity, which is highly unusual.
An unidentified neighbor told The Press Association that the couple “just kept themselves to themselves.”
“They were a very nice couple,” the neighbor said. “They just seemed a very normal couple. I just know it’s very unfortunate.”
Strange happenings in London, however, point to a highly-organized domestic slavery ring centered around some kind of religious ideology. Police are conducting house-to-house searches throughout Britain, and The Daily Mail is reporting that the victims met the suspects through “shared ideology” and “lived together as a collective”.
37 officers are on the case, and over 2,500 items have been taken from the home, also indications that the case is much larger than the police are telling the media at this time. Another indication is the fact that slavery-related calls to Freedom Charity are up 5-fold this week.
‘The suspects are of Indian and Tanzanian origin that came to the UK in the 1960s. We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a ‘collective’.
‘Somehow that collective came to an end and the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects. How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims’ lives.
‘The 30 year old woman does have a birth certificate; however that is all the official documentation we can find. We believe she has lived with the suspects and the other victims all her life, but of course at this early stage we are still seeking out evidence.’
Interestingly enough, the suspects had been known to authorities since the 1970’s, and all evidence thus far has indicated that a domestic slavery operation like this should not have gone unnoticed by them this long. There have even been rumors that social services knew all about what was going on, and this is more than just a case of these poor women “slipping through the cracks”:
The couple suspected of keeping three women as slaves for 30 years used cult-like techniques to brainwash their victims, it has been claimed.
The extraordinary psychological control they exerted meant the three were kept captive in ‘invisible handcuffs’. Local politicians and community leaders briefed on the case compared their ordeal to people trapped in a religious cult.
The details emerged as detectives revealed the two suspects arrested over the case were known to police and had been detained in the 1970s. They also said the pair are being investigated over unspecified immigration offences as well as allegations relating to slavery.
The revelations will lead to questions as to why they were in the country in the first place – and whether police missed opportunities to rescue the women, who were frequently beaten. Pressure was also growing on local social services, who today refused to say whether they had been in contact with the women during their ordeal.
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