Three women rescued in London 'after 30 years in slavery'

Three women rescued in London 'after 30 years in slavery'
Police officers stand guard in central London.

LONDON - Three traumatised women have been rescued from a house in London after being held as slaves for at least 30 years with one of them having spent her entire life in servitude, police said Thursday.

A man and a woman, both aged 67 and described as non-British, were arrested at their home on Thursday as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude, Scotland Yard said.

The victims are a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton who were released after one of them called a charity.

"We have never seen anything of this magnitude before," said Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, who leads Scotland Yard's Human Trafficking Unit.

"These women are highly traumatised, having been held in servitude for at least 30 years with no real exposure to the outside world, and, trying to find out exactly what has happened over three decades will understandably take some time," he told reporters.

Police said they did not know where the youngest woman was born, adding that the relationship between the three women was "part of an ongoing investigation and we are not willing to speculate.

"However, we believe that the 30-year-old woman had been in servitude all her life," a Scotland Yard statement said.

The women, who are now in an unspecified location, were rescued after the Irish woman "found the courage" to call the Freedom Charity on October 18 after it was featured in a television programme about domestic slavery, police said.

The charity usually deals with forced marriage and honour-based abuse but is also used to working with women who feel trapped in difficult situations.

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