Cops: 3 Rescued Women in London Lived in 'Collective'

They were apparently brainwashed and beaten by captor couple, say police

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 23, 2013 10:02 AM CST

(Newser) – This much is clear about the case of three women alleged to have been kept against their will in a London home for more than 30 years: It's going to take a while to fully unwind what happened. But the picture emerging suggests that the women were controlled by their captor couple through brainwashings and beatings in conditions akin to a cult. Police today said the two 67-year-old suspects charged in the case are natives of India and Tanzania who came to Britain in the 1960s, reports AP. At some point after that, the male suspect met two of the three victims "through a shared political ideology and ... they lived together at an address that you could effectively call 'a collective,'" says police official Steve Rodhouse.

“How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what we are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims’ lives," he says, as per the Telegraph. He said the women had some degree of freedom but were bound by what he called "invisible handcuffs." The victims, now being helped by a charity, are a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irish woman, and a 30-year-old Briton. Police are investigating whether the male suspect fathered the 30-year-old with the Irish woman, reports the Guardian. Her birth was registered, making it unclear how her existence went unnoticed all this time by government agencies. She can reportedly read and write and is described as intelligent, though she apparently never went to school, says the newspaper. Police say they're working to gain the trust of the victims, but it will take time. "This must move at their pace, not anyone else's," says Rodhouse.

Kevin Hyland, head of the Metropolitan Police's human-trafficking unit, speaks to the media outside New Scotland Yard's headquarters in London on Thursday.   (AP Photo/ Sky TV, via Associated Press Television)
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