How can these things happen?

Cleveland was rocked last year by the revelation that a man had imprisoned three women in his house for a decade, fathering a child by one of them, before they were rescued. It seemed bizarre that this could have happened in a city in a neighborhood where the houses were so close to each other, and triggered a lot of discussion and guilt about how it could be that no one noticed anything untoward.

But now comes along another story of three women held captive for three decades in a much bigger and even more densely populated city of London, England.

Three women have been “rescued” from a south London house as police investigate claims they were held as slaves for about 30 years.

Police arrested a 67-year-old man and woman in Lambeth this morning.

Last month officers were contacted by Freedom Charity after it received a call from a woman saying she had been held against her will for decades.

A Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and a British woman, 30, were rescued from the house on 25 October.

The women, who are said to be “highly traumatised”, are now in safe accommodation.

Police said they were not related to each other and the 30-year-old had spent her whole life in captivity. Officers are trying to establish whether she was born in the house.

Speaking to the BBC, Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, said the charity was investigating how the women had remained hidden for so long.

“In a very busy capital city we often don’t know our neighbours. We’re looking at people who were kept against their will in an ordinary residential street in central London,” she said.

I am wondering how many such cases there may be around the world, right under our noses.


  1. says

    I hope this is a good suggestion…

    After the exposure and prosecution of Jerry Sandusky and his serial abuse of children at Penn State, former NHL players Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury spoke up about the abuse, both through the media and to those investigating the abuse at PSU. Whether they spoke to the abused children and their families, I don’t know. Kennedy and Fleury were both victims of the same sexual predator in their teens, their former coach Graham James, who repeatedly raped them over several years.

    I’m not a counselor of any sort and I could be (read: probably am) wrong, but I wonder if hearing from Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight would help, if the three were willing. They have similar experiences – not just long term imprisonment and abuse, but also acclimatizing to life and freedom afterward.

  2. says

    Every time I hear about one of these cases, I wonder how many others are out there.

    I also firmly believe that despite all the lip-service given to “slavery is bad”, if it was legalized there would be plenty of people who wouldn’t hesitate to buy another human being.

  3. says

    Sadly, there are probably hundreds in the US alone, thousands worldwide.

    Arizona couple ‘held three daughters captive’ in home

    Police in Arizona say three sisters were held captive in filthy conditions for up to two years by their mother and stepfather in the city of Tucson.

    Investigators say two of the girls, aged 12 and 13, escaped and alerted a neighbour after their stepfather tried to attack them with a knife.

    Officers then found a 17-year-old locked in her bedroom.

    The girls were malnourished and dirty and told the police they had not taken a bath in up to six months.

    Like Amanda Berry, it’s encouraging to know that one always kept an eye open for the possibility of escape, that they never gave up hope.

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