Slavery is not dead, nor does it sleep

No sooner do I post a review of “12 Years a Slave” then a story about the enduring institution of slavery appears in Britain.  The captives rescued from slavery were a 57-year-old Irish woman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, and a 30-year old British woman, rescued from a couple of 67-year-old captors in south London after a reported thirty years of slavery for the older women.

According to the Irish Times, the enslaved women made their bid for freedom after one of them “watched a documentary in early October about forced marriages by Muslim clerics in British mosques.”  She contacted an aid group called Freedom Charity, who turned the case over to a police sex-crimes unit and human-trafficking investigators.  

In a chilling detail, it took the authorities a few days to locate and rescue the captives, because the woman who made the phone call didn’t know the address of the house where she was kept for the past three decades.  In an even more chilling detail, it sounds as if the youngest of the women was born into slavery, possibly right in that very house.  And this sort of thing is apparently not all that rare in the UK, although 30 years is an exceptionally long period of captivity; Irish authorities have reportedly freed some other people who “have been held in forced labor and servitude for 10 years.”

The authorities are being comically evasive about the identity of the slave holders, given the other details published in the case – that documentary about forced Muslim marriages is kind of a giveaway.  The kicker is that the 67-year-old couple who held those women in slavery for 30 years – the entire life of one captive – has been released on bail.


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