Shocking ordeal of London slaves revealed: Malaysian woman, 69, 'had stroke but was denied medical help' and captives only saw daylight to hang out washing or help captors with shopping

November 23, 2013 8:23 PM

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The Lambeth slaves allegedly held captive for 30 years may only have had rare glimpses of daylight when they were allowed to hang out the washing or go shopping accompanied by their captors.

The three women - including a British 30-year-old never allowed to step into the outside world - were held in 'horrific conditions', the charity who helped free them said today.

Their decades of forced servitude ended last month when one of the victims apparently made a 'call for help' when her 'friend' - another victim - was refused medical treatment after having a stroke.

The Irishwoman of 57, who made the call, fled with the unwell 69-year-old Malaysian and the youngest victim, who were all held in servitude by a non-British couple in their 60s for three decades.

David Cameron's official spokesman said today the Prime Minister regarded the case as 'utterly appalling'.

A picture of life inside their Lambeth prison has been slowly emerging, where the women were allegedly kept as servants, carrying out everyday tasks around the home.

Although they had their own rooms, it is understood they were never allowed out unsupervised.

Discovery: Three female slaves, one held for more than 30 years, have been discovered in London after one contacted a charity run by Aneeta Prem (pictured)

They were released in October when one of the women called Freedom Charity after seeing a documentary about forced marriage on television.

The Independent said she spoke of a 'friend' being unwell, but did not reveal that she and the two others were being held captive.

Apparently in an 'emotional state', she then said her 'friend' had suffered a stroke but was not allowed medical help, and added that the other 'friend', presumably the girl held in captivity all her life had never been to school.

The woman did not give her name or address, but it is believed the police were then contacted, who traced the phone and found the 'ordinary house' in south London, which the women left on October 25.

Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, which was called by one of the women, today spoke of their release and said: 'When we got the message they were outside the front door, the whole call centre erupted in cheers and there were tears, and everyone was incredibly emotional to know we had helped to rescue three ladies who had been held in such horrific conditions.

The two people, a non-British couple, both 67, were held by police at a south London station last night have been released on bail, and it is unclear if they are back at their home.

'There are fears this is part of a wider abduction ring. There is an ongoing search of possible linked addresses, and for any bodies that might be concealed,' a police source said.

A British woman was among three ‘deeply traumatised’ women who were rescued from the ‘ordinary’ house by police.

Yesterday Scotland Yard swooped on the house in Lambeth, south London, and arrested a couple, both aged 67, on suspicion of enslaving the three women.

The couple were questioned on suspicion of holding the women against their will for more than 30 years.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit, said: ‘This is an extraordinary case.

‘We don’t know whether the 30-year-old was born in the house, but she has spent her whole life, we believe, in this servitude or forced labour.

Police said the three women were unrelated to each other, but it was unclear if the youngest victim is related to their captors.

They were said to have found the courage to act after watching an ITV Exposure documentary about forced marriages on October 9, which featured an organisation called Freedom Charity, prompting the Irishwoman to call its helpline.

The charity’s founder, Aneeta Prem, said: ‘They were absolutely terrified by the people they were held by.

‘They felt they were in massive danger, but they made a decision to make that phone call. It was very difficult for them.

The tense operation to rescue the women took place on October 25, but was only revealed yesterday when the arrests happened.

Miss Prem said: ‘It was planned that they would be able to walk out of the property.

The exact location of the house in Lambeth has not been revealed, but Miss Prem said: ‘I don’t believe the neighbours knew anything about it at all.

‘It was an ordinary house in an ordinary street that wouldn’t raise concerns with anybody else.’ She said the women did have their own rooms in the house, but rarely went out and if they did, were always escorted.

It is believed another factor in their decision to break free was realising the elderly couple had become more frail, and the women had turned into their carers.

The victims are so traumatised that police have been unable to interview them fully, and are still unsure of key details of the abuse.

Who are the victims: A 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman.

Are they in police custody? Scotland Yard say they are in another place of safety. 'They are extremely traumatised which explains the discrepancy between with the Freedom Charity were contacted and the arrests were made. We continue to work closely with the victims to gather further information,' a spokesman said.

Was the youngest victim born in the house in Lambeth? 'We are not sure where she was born but she appears to have been in servitude for her entire life,' the spokesman said.

Have you dealt with similar cases before? 'The Met's unit has dealt with cases of people held in servitude against their will for around 10 years. This is the first time we have come across people who have been held for such a considerable length of time,' the spokesman said.

Chief Inspector Hyland said: ‘Their life was greatly controlled and for much of it they would have been kept in the premises.

‘We don’t know whether the 30-year-old was born in the house but the 30-year-old has spent her whole life, we believe, in servitude.

‘It is fair to suggest the 30-year-old had no contact with the outside world that we would see as normal.

‘The fact is she has spent her entire life in the control of this criminal network. We can’t say at the moment whether she is the daughter of the man we’ve arrested.

A police spokesman added: ‘The women we’re dealing with are deeply, deeply traumatised.

The couple – described as the ‘heads of the family’ – were being questioned at a south London police station last night.

Both are understood to be non-British, but police would not comment on suggestions they were Irish. They were arrested at 7.30am and police searched their house throughout the morning.

The fact the Met’s specialist human trafficking unit is involved suggests the Malaysian woman and possibly the Irishwoman might have been trafficked to the UK.

Police are examining previous abduction cases of people forced into servitude by Irish travellers.

An estimated 4,700 people are being kept as slaves in Britain today with 400 cases reported in the past three months.

Experts say there are many victims - many of them children - whose plight is completely hidden from view.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOAC) said they identified around 2,000 victims in the UK this year and one in four were children.

The Home Secretary's special envoy for human trafficking, Anthony Steen said: ;Neighbours all over the country aren't aware of the identifying issues of modern-day slavery. This is just the tip of the iceberg'.

Cases of slavery, human trafficking and domestic servitude are on the increase in Britain, a police chief warned today.

Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police who is the national policing lead on migration, said it was 'unacceptable' that the industry had been allowed grow.

He said: 'We must be very ruthless and clear with traffickers that the UK is not a place to operate. 'A slave is a slave is a slave. Whether it's trafficking, forced labour or domestic servitude, you're controlling a human being as a commodity.

The phone call to Freedom Charity by one of the alleged victim's, reporting that she had been held against her will, came in October, the same month that a television documentary aired on forced marriage.

ITV documentary series Exposure, showed clerics at 18 UK mosques agreeing to marry off a girl of 14 in an Islamic ceremony.

Undercover reporters filmed the documentary, entitled Forced to Marry, which was broadcast on October 9, and involved two reporters posing as the mother and brother of a 14-year-old girl to be married to an older man.

The journalists contacted 56 of mosques around the UK asking if they would perform the marriage of a 14-year-old girl.

Around two thirds of those contacted refused to perform am Islamic marriage, known as a nikah, making it clear they were disgusted at the request.

However, 18 of the respondents agreed, with one Iman saying ‘that’s not going to be a problem’.

Another cleric, Shams-ul-Huda Khan Misbahi, who preaches in Heckmondwike near Leeds, was shown assuring the reporters that the marriage would be ‘real’. Despite being told that the girl had only met her future husband once, the cleric condoned making her move in with the man against her wishes, claiming ‘everything is jaiz’, meaning lawful.

Campaigners claim thousands of girls are forced into the illegal ceremonies every year, in a boom fuelled by the ‘moral blindness of cultural sensitivity’.

Marriages can only be officially registered if both parties are over 16, which is also the age of sexual consent.

However, under Islamic or sharia law, a girl can get married as soon as she reaches puberty.

Official figured suggest that the vast majority of forced marriages of British children happen abroad, although the Exposure investigation revealed that girls as young as 10 are being forced into marriage in this country.

Around 400 schoolchildren, mainly girls from South Asian communities, are forced into marriage every year in the UK.

The programme was made with the support of Freedom Charity, and founder Anita Prem was interviewed about the show prior to its air date.

She said: ‘I think whoever is involved in this, you are talking about child abuse and exploitation and it is something we need to stop.

‘People are too culturally sensitive when dealing with this, they are worried about offending particular groups. We have to say it’s immoral and illegal and stamp it out.

Since 2008, courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been able to issue civil orders to prevent forced marriage. Breaches can result in a two-year prison sentence for contempt of court.

Josef Fritzl, Ariel Castro and Phillip Garrido are three of the world's most notorious kidnappers who have held their victims captive for decades.

In each case the women held were rescued and the stories generated headlines around the world.

In Britain businessman Ilyas Ashar, 84, and his wife Tallat, 68, were last month jailed for holding a deaf and mute child from Pakistan in captivity in their cellar.

Ashar sexually abused and beat the youngster who he brought to Salford, Greater Manchester, from Pakistan in June 2000 when she was aged just 10.

The girl never went to school in Pakistan or Britain, but was taught by the Ashars to sign her name to claim benefits.

Ashar would routinely rape the girl in the cellar and other houses the family owned - though she would try to fight him off.

The most notorious kidnapper was Austrian father Josef Fritzl who was arrested five years ago after holding his daughter Elisabeth as a sex slave in a concealed basement for 24 years.

Elisabeth was repeatedly raped by her father and gave birth to seven of his children while in captivity.

Fritzl, now 78, kept three of them with him and his wife Rosemarie, who was oblivious to what lay beneath her home.

She thought the three children had been abandoned by Elisabeth after Fritzl convinced her that their daughter had ran away and the evil rapist masqueraded as the children's grandfather.

It was the critical illness of Elisabeth's 19-year-old incest daughter Kerstin in April 2008 which finally heralded the end of the secret cellar and its inhabitants.

Elisabeth Fritzl was rescued in Austria emerged just two years after Natascha Kampusch escaped after being held captive for eight years.

Miss Kampusch vanished on her way to school in Vienna in 1998 when she was ten.

Wolfgang Priklopil carved a secret, sound-proof cellar beneath his home in a suburb of the city in which to keep her captive for eight years.

Long considered the victim of a paedophile who had murdered her, Miss Kampusch finally escaped in August 2006.

In the US, Ariel Castro held three women in captivity for years before they got out in May this year.

Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, were rescued from the property in Cleveland, Ohio, after being kidnapped between 2002 and 2004.

They were found after Berry escaped from Castro’s house with her six-year-old daughter and contacted police. Castro later admitted 937 counts of rape, kidnap and aggravated murder for intentionally causing miscarriages. He was ordered to serve his whole life in prison in July with no chance of parole but hanged himself in his cell one month later.

At the time of their disappearances between 2002 and 2004 Amanda Berry was 16, Gina DeJesus was 14 and Miss Knight was 21.

Also in the US, Phillip Garrido held Jaycee Lee Dugard in captivity for 18 years before she was released in 2009.

Garrido and his wife nancy snatched 11-year-old Jaycee from a street in South Lake Tahoe in June 1991 while on her way to school.

She was held captive in a compound behind their home in Antioch, California house where Garrido repeatedly raped and drugged her. During her captivity, Dugard gave birth to two daughters fathered by Garrido.

Miss Dugard received $20million (£12.5million) from the state of California and Garrido was later sentenced to 431 years in prison while his wife Nancy was given 36 years.

In Missouri, US, a man was jailed in September for imprisoning a woman in his trailer for 20 years.

Edward Bagley, 46, and his wife Marilyn recruited the woman to live with them in ther rural trailer in 2002 and groomed her to become Bagley’s sex slave.


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