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Europe

Suspects in London ‘slave’ case released on bail

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-22

A London couple have been released on bail after being arrested Thursday as suspects in a case involving three women who allegedly spent 30 years as domestic slaves in ‘horrific conditions.’

British police released a London couple taken in briefly for questioning Thursday in connection with a domestic slavery case that has shocked Britain.

The case, which was kept under wraps until yesterday’s arrests, involves three women who were freed on 25th October after being allegedly held for at least 30 years in a London home.

Officials identified the victims as a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish citizen and a 30-year-old British national, who is believed to have spent her entire life in domestic slavery. It is not thought that the women are related to each other or their captors.

“Traumatised”

The story hit the press after detectives arrested a man and a woman, both 67 and described as non-British nationals, at their home in south London in connection with the discovery. The married couple were released on bail late Thursday after police questioning.

Police said the rescued women were, “highly traumatised”.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit said, “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 lifetime.”

Police acted after being contacted last month by the Freedom Charity, which received a call from a woman saying she had been held against her will in a house in London for more than 30 years, police said.

Police and charity worked together

Police said that the 57 year-old-woman “found the courage” to contact the charity after seeing a TV documentary on forced marriages featuring the group’s work. While the group focuses on helping young people escaping forced marriages and honour killings, it is also used to working with women trapped in different difficult situations.

Police inquiries established the location of the house and, with the help of “sensitive negotiations” conducted by the charity, the three women were rescued.

“It was a very emotional time,” said Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity. “When we got the message they were outside the front door, the whole call centre erupted in cheers and there were tears, and everyone was incredibly emotional to know we had helped to rescue three ladies who had been held in such horrific conditions.”

Police applauded the actions of Freedom Charity and said that further investigations would follow.

“We have launched an extensive investigation to establish the facts surrounding these very serious allegations,” Hyland said.

The victims are currently in ‘a place of safety,’ according to Prem.

“They are happy as they can be, considering the circumstances… but they are going to have to rebuild their lives and that is going to be difficult for women who have spent 30 years being held,” she said in an interview with the BBC.

In a similar case earlier this year, three women who were imprisoned in a house in Cleveland, Ohio, for more than a decade were freed.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)
 

Date created : 2013-11-22

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