Police rescue three women held for up to 30 years in London house

LONDON Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:10am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - British police said they arrested two people on Thursday after three women were rescued from a London home after being held against their will for up to 30 years.

Officers from the London Metropolitan Police Service human trafficking unit detained a man and a woman, both aged 67, at their home in south London on Thursday morning.

Police said in a statement that the arrests were part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude sparked in October when the Freedom Charity reported receiving a call from a woman who said she had been held against her will in the house for more than 30 years.

Further enquiries led to the house and, with the help of negotiations conducted by the charity, the rescue of the three women: a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman.

"All three women, who were highly traumatized, were taken to a place of safety where they remain," the statement added.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland said a television documentary on forced marriages relating to the work of the Freedom Charity was the catalyst that prompted one of the victims to call for help and led to their rescue.

Last month, the first Global Slavery Index by the charity Walk Free Foundation revealed there were nearly 30 million people living as slaves in 162 countries and that Britain was not immune to the problem.

Although ranked 160th on the list, there were still estimated to be more than 4,000 slaves in Britain, an estimate that the index judged to be conservative.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)

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