A 57-year-old Irishwoman was among three women who were last night recovering from 30 years of alleged slavery in London.
British police believe one of the other women, a 30-year-old Briton, spent her entire life in forced servitude. The third alleged victim is a 69-year-old Malaysian.
The women were rescued from a house in Lambeth, south London, last month, after one woman called a support charity, Freedom Charity, for help.
Their plight was made public yesterday after a man and woman, both aged 67 and described as non-British nationals, were arrested at a Lambeth address.
Investigating officers described the alleged victims as “deeply traumatised”.
Metropolitan 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. We’ve seen some cases where people have been held for up to 10 years but we’ve never seen anything of this magnitude before.”
Mr Hyland said there was a delay in arresting the suspects after the women were freed on Oct 25, but the women were freed as soon as possible.
He said he was unable to confirm any relationship between the suspects and the three women who were freed.
“Because of the nationalities of the women that have been held victims, it’s very unlikely they are related in any way,” he said.
Freedom Charity got in touch with police after they received a call from one of the women following television coverage of forced marriages.
Here, gardaí said they had not received any request from British police to track the family of the Irishwoman.
Siobhán O’Donoghue, director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, said the case bore similarities to many of the more than 200 cases the centre has dealt with over the past six years.
“We see similar patterns of threats, abuse, confiscation of passports and identity papers, people subjected to gross abuse and humiliation and people not knowing they have rights because they have been systematically told they do not have rights and that if they seek help they will get into trouble,” said Ms O’Donoghue.
She said the cases in Ireland included people enslaved in domestic service, ethnic restaurants, cannabis growhouses, and a range of domestic and business settings.
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