Woman 'slave denied medical treatment despite stroke'
Three women are alleged to have been held against their will in a London home for 30 years – with one born in captivity
The three ‘slaves’ kept captive in a London house were denied medical treatment, despite one telling her alleged captors she had had a stroke, it is believed.
One of the women is a 30-year-old who was born into captivity and allowed no contact with the outside world, it is alleged.
The woman, who police said had no normal contact with the outside world, was rescued alongside a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 69-year-old from Malaysia.
Their alleged captors are not British, the police confirmed, but provided no further details about their nationality.
During their captivity one of the women had told the “heads of the family” that she was ill and thought she had suffered a stroke, but was denied any medical treatment, it is said.
Police are today searching the home in Lambeth, south London, the precise location of which has not been revealed.
Officers believe that this could be Britain’s most enduring case of domestic slavery.
The three 'slaves’ were never allowed outside unaccompanied and spent the vast majority of their lives confined.
The women were rescued after the 57-year-old made a call to charity Freedom, in which one of them said that a “friend” was being held captive.
She said that the “friend” believed she had suffered a stroke and knew she was not well, but she was not allowed medical help, the Independent reported.
Many details of the women’s lives, including how they came to be held in the house in the first place, are yet to be uncovered as they remain “traumatised” by the experience and police will have to painstakingly piece together the last three decades.
It is believed the women suffered physical as well as mental harm.
Aneeta Prem, Freedom Charity founder, said despite the alleged abuse the women were able to walk out of the property after repeated but tentative contact with the organisation's call centre.
She told Sky News: "We started in-depth to talks to them when they could, it had to be pre-arranged. They gave us set times when they were able to speak to us.
"It was planned that they would be able to walk out of the property. The police were on standby.
"They were able to leave the property, but it was done in such a way ... it was a very, very excellent way it happened.
Ms Prem said the two people arrested were considered the "heads of the family", and that the women were "absolutely terrified" of them.
She added: "They felt they were in massive danger. I don't believe the neighbours knew anything about it at all. It was just an ordinary house in an ordinary street.
"They were very restricted on everything they could do. We absolutely thrilled this has happened."
All three women, who police described as "highly traumatised", were taken to a place of safety where they remain.
Ms Prem said: "They are going to be afforded all the help and support that can be.
"I'm so grateful they saw the news. Now they will try to rebuild their lives."
The call from one of the alleged captives, which triggered the police investigation, is believed to have been prompted by a feature on television news channels and in the media during the summer, which investigated false marriages in the UK.
Scotland Yard said further inquiries by police revealed the location of the house, and "sensitive negotiations" were conducted by the charity.
A man and a woman, both aged 67, were arrested after officers from Scotland Yard were alerted to the plight of the three women last month but the pair, who have not been named, have since been bailed.
Detectives from the human trafficking unit said it was the worst case of modern slavery they had ever come across in Britain.
The case has led to comparisons with that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who kept his daughter confined to the cellar of his home for 24 years.
In May this year three women were freed from a house in Cleveland, Ohio after being kidnapped and held against their will for more than a decade.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, expressed her shock at the case.
A spokesman said: “The home secretary is shocked by this appalling case and while the police need to get to the bottom of exactly what happened here, the home secretary has made clear her determination to tackle the scourge of modern slavery.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “If the allegations are true that someone’s been kept against their will or been abused for 30 years that’s a horrendous thing and we’re all shocked by that.”
Earlier this year the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) – a joint operation by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – revealed it helped in 1,485 cases of possible forced marriage in 2012, involving 60 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America.
The statistics for last year show that of the 744 cases where the age was known, more than 600 involved people under the age of 26.