Police found three women who had been held captive for 30 years in a South London home, reports Reuters. One of the women is believed to have been in captivity her entire life.
Officers arrested a man and woman, both 67, and said it was the worst case of servitude they had encountered in the city. Police said they do not believe the women are related. One is a 69-year-old woman from Malaysia, another is a 57-year-old from Ireland and one is a 30-year-old Briton. Police do not know where the 30-year-old was born.
The Irish woman saw a documentary on forced marriage at home, and the program prompted her to call Freedom Charity, a local charity featured in the documentary. The woman told employees she had been held against her will in the house. The three were rescued weeks ago, but police did not announce the case until after they arrested the couple on Thursday.
"All three women, who were highly traumatised, were taken to a place of safety where they remain," Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland told reporters. "The Human Trafficking Unit of the Metropolitan Police deals with many cases of servitude and forced labour. We have seen some cases where people have been held for up to 10 years, but we have never seen anything of this magnitude before."
Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, told Reuters it took weeks to gain the women's trust before the rescue could go ahead. "They had been trying for a number of years to work out a way to leave. People will be shocked this can happen in the UK and in a capital city like London," she said. Prem also said that neighbors had never noticed anything odd at the home. She added that the women were doing "remarkably well," but that it "will be a very long haul for them to try to return to a normal life."