An Indian man and a Tanzanian woman have been revealed to be the couple behind the enslavement of three women at a house in South London, reports say.
The three victims, a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irishwoman and a 30-year-old Briton, were held in the house near Lambeth for 30 years in what police believe to be “some kind of political collective”, through brainwashing and beatings.
The 67-year-old couple that were arrested – and later bailed - are thought to have arrived in the UK in the 1960’s from East Africa. They were arrested on suspicion of slavery as well as a number of immigration offences and had been previously arrested in the 1970’s.
The women were freed four weeks ago after they contacted the Freedom Charity, a campaign group founded by British Indian magistrate Aneeta Prem and which helps people report forced marriages, particularly within the South Asian Diaspora community.
The victims decided to contact the Charity after seeing its work on a TV news report.
(Pictured): Anita Prem,Founder, Freedom Charity, speaks to reporters outside Scotland Yard
Police say the three women had not been physically restrained at the couple’s apartment but were bound to their captors by “invisible handcuffs” in a “disturbing picture of emotional control”.
"We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'," Metropolitan Commander Steve Rodhouse said in a statement.
"Somehow that collective came to an end and how the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects ... for over 30 years is what are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."
It remains unclear how the youngest woman came to be there. Police said the captives were not related.
"The 30-year-old woman does have a birth certificate; however that is all the official documentation we can find. We believe she has lived with the suspects and the other victims all her life," Rodhouse said.
The publicity surrounding the case has prompted a fivefold increase in the number of calls to the Freedom Charity hotline, according to reports.
Aneeta Prem said this case could be "the tip of the iceberg" with more hidden modern-day slavery such as domestic servitude, sex work, or low-paid jobs in nail salons, agriculture, and restaurants, across Britain.
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