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Enslaved women traumatised but doing ‘remarkably well’

Founder of Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem, has met the three victims on numerous occasions recently.

Aneeta Prem, Freedom Charity
Aneeta Prem, Freedom Charity
Image: Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 20:25

THE WOMAN WHO instigated the rescue of three women from domestic servitude in London last month said today they are doing “remarkably well” considering the “absolute trauma they were under”.

Founder of the Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem has spent her career working around issues of forced marriage and dishonour-based violence.

An interview on BBC News of her discussing cases of children going missing from school and the charity’s education programme was the catalyst for the women to seek help.

“The ladies concerned had seen me on various news channels talking about forced marriage,” Prem told Morning Ireland today.

“One of the things that came up at the end of those interviews was the fact there is a charity – Freedom – and they memorised the phone number.”

The 57-year-old Irish woman made the phone call to the 24-hour helpline last month and those who took her information were “sufficiently disturbed” to take the case forward.

“From the initial call to the helpline, we took it incredibly seriously and believed them,” continued Prem. “From that moment on, it was starting negotiations in a very sensitive way to make sure they were given all the help and support they needed in order to mount the rescue.”

The Human Trafficking Unit of the Metropolitan Police was brought into the case on 21 October and a probe began to establish the women’s exact locations.

Negotiations – led by the charity – eventually concluded with the woman agreeing to meet Prem and a number of detectives at a location on Friday, 25 October. She was accompanied by the 30-year-old British woman. Once they had met with Scotland Yard, they returned to the Lambeth property to rescue the third woman – a 67-year-old Malaysian.

Prem says that she won the trust of the victims and she has seen them a number of times over the past four weeks.

“Considering the absolute trauma that they were under, they are doing remarkably well. But it is going to be a slow process. They are going to have to rebuild their lives and that’s not going to be easy as they have come out with absolutely nothing at all.

“We’ll make sure they are in a place of safety. They need all the help and support to rebuild their lives.”

She also believes it was the name of her charity and its basic messages about silence not being an open which encouraged the women to reach out.

Prem urged people to be more vigilant about what is happening in their neighbourhoods.

“I think people have to come forward, you need to know who your neighbours are, you need to ask difficult, awkward questions. I’m really proud of Freedom Charity – we know we’ve saved lives.”

The two suspects in the case – a man and a woman who are both aged 67 and said to be non-British – have been released on bail until January. Gardaí have not yet been asked to assist on the case.

First published 09:39.

Read: Suspects in London domestic servitude investigation bailed

Related: Irish Embassy in London look to establish details behind woman freed from slavery

Read: Irish woman made call that freed her from 30 years of slavery >

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