Three women who were allegedly held as “slaves” in a south London home have been freed, and one of the women says she was living there for thirty years in the service of a couple in their ’60s. That couple has now been arrested, and questions surrounding the captivity of these women are rising as the story goes viral.
The bizarre story came to light after one of the women contacted the Freedom Charity, which helps women who are either forced into marriage or are victims of violence due to their non-compliance with arranged relationships. The organization reportedly worked with police to help track down the home where the woman said she was being held with two others. The victims are a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman, and a 30-year-old British woman.
“We have launched an extensive investigation to establish the facts surrounding these very serious allegations,” Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland said. “We’ve established that all three women were held in this situation for at least 30 years. They did have some controlled freedom. They are extremely traumatized, which explains the discrepancy between when the Freedom Charity were contacted and the arrests were made. It would be wrong of us to move at a pace that would further traumatize any victims…We’re very early in the investigation, we’re not investigating offenses of a sexual nature, there haven’t been any arrests of a sexual nature, so that’s the circumstances at the moment.”
Officials say the house looked like any other on a suburban street, but Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom Charity, said that inside was a different story.
“I don’t believe the neighbors knew anything about it at all. It was just an ordinary house in an ordinary street. They did have rooms that they could use but they were really restricted about what they could do and could never leave the front door,” she said.
It is believed at this time that the 30-year old woman has lived in servitude her entire life, but officials expect to uncover more answers within the next few weeks. For now, the women are in a safe place while their captors–who were considered the “heads of the family” and allegedly “terrified” the women–are being held by police.