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Dublin: 11°C Monday 10 May 2021

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

Two people have been arrested as part of the investigation into slavery and domestic servitude after the three women were rescued.

Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Updated 4.28pm

TWO PEOPLE HAVE been arrested by British police after three “highly traumatised” women were discovered at a house in London, where they said they were held against their will for more than 30 years.

One of the women is a 57-year-old Irish woman, who has not been identified. The other two women are a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and a 30-year-old British woman. Police said they do not believe any of the women are related to each other.

They are also not sure if the 30-year-old was born in the house but understand she has been in servitude for her entire life.

The Met Police in London said in a statement that they were alerted after a charity contacted police to say they had received a phone call from a woman saying she had been held against her will in south London for three decades.

Police began an investigation and with the help of the charity, rescued the three woman from the house which is located in Lambeth Borough.

A 67-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman were arrested as part of the investigation into slavery and domestic servitude and have been taken to a south London police station.

Police said all three women were taken to a place of safety where they remain.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit praised the work of the charity involved.

“We have launched an extensive investigation to establish the facts surrounding these very serious allegations,” he said.

He outlined that a television documentary on forced marriages relating to the work of Freedom Charity – the charity in question – had been the catalyst which had prompted one of the victims to call for help.


Lambeth in South London. Image: Google Maps

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Hyland said that while his unit has seen cases where people have been held for up to 10 years, they have not seen “anything of this magnitude before”.

“This is the first time we have come across people who have been held for such a considerable length of time.”

The discrepancies between the times of the rescues and the arrests occurred because detectives were working “sensitively to establish facts”, he explained.

Hyland told reporters that the women had some “controlled freedom” but the 30-year-old had spent her entire life in the house.

“We believe that she, and the others, had limited freedom. We will continue to speak to the victims to ascertain what this ascertained.”

Founder of the Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem, told Sky News earlier today that it was the Irish woman that telephoned the helpline after seeing the television report.

“I think all of them saw me on the news and made a decision because of the name of the charity and because they had seen me on TV – that gave them the courage to make that phone call,” she said

First published at 2.46pm; additional reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll

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