UK cops arrest 2 'slave owners'

2013-11-21 19:27
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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London - British police on Thursday said they had arrested two people who allegedly held three women as slaves in their London home for more than 30 years.

A Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and a British woman, 30, were all rescued, said detective inspector Kevin Hyland, adding that his force had "never seen anything of this magnitude before".

He said a man and a woman, both aged 67, had been arrested as part of an investigation into "slavery and domestic servitude".

Police said they were contacted in October by the Freedom Charity, after they received a phone call from a woman who said she had been held at a house in south London for more than 30 years.

After locating the house and "sensitive negotiations" conducted by the charity, police were able to free the women, who were all "highly traumatized" but now in a "place of safety," Hyland said.

"We applaud the actions of the Freedom Charity and are working in partnership to support these victims," he added.

On its website, the Freedom Charity says it helps young people to avoid forced marriages and "dishonour-based violence".

The organization's founder, Aneeta Prem, told Sky News that one of the rescued women had been prompted to call the charity after seeing her in a television documentary on forced marriages.

She said it was the Irish woman who had contacted her. The two arrested were the "heads of the family" and the three women were "absolutely terrified" of them, having suffered mental and physical abuse.

"We started in-depth to talks to them when they could, it had to be pre-arranged. They gave us set times when they were able to speak to us," said Prem.

"It was planned that they would be able to walk out of the property. The police were on standby."

She said she did not believe the neighbours knew anything about it.

"It was just an ordinary house in an ordinary street."

Read more on:    human rights

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