1 December 2013. On the night of 8 October 2013, foundation of a tumultuous revolt was brewing in Peckford Place in Brixton, south London, when an Irishwoman ‘very distressed’ watched a television programme from her unspecified virtual hideout and gathered some courage to call the ‘Freedom Charity’ to free her from the hell of her bonded life on 18 October 2013. The Charity normally deals with forced marriage and honour based abuse. The fateful telephone call ended their alleged captivity week later on 25 October 2013, of long thirty years, a rare phenomenon never seen or heard so far anywhere in the modern free society. The women:
After thirty years of illegal confinement against their will, these three women walked out free to breathe fresh air of freedom, thanks to Aneeta Prem running a free Charity Freedom, NGO, and is also a Magistrate in London.
David Cameron with Aneeta Prem of the Freedom charity during a meeting with the forced marriage unit at the Foreign Office. Photograph: Getty Images
Established by Aneeta Prem, an Indian-born London magistrate, the group runs a 24 hour helpline and text service for people to report forced marriages and violence connected to such situations.
It also offers education and training to help end forced marriages, and is particularly focused on younger people: the charity's mascot is a cartoon tiger called Fremont. There is also a mobile app connected to the issue, and Prem has written a novel based around forced marriage.
The telephone number is 0845 607 0133 and texts should be sent as "4freedom" to 88802.
The charity operates its own website and also uses social media websites. In conjunction with the UK government's Forced Marriage Unit and the Metropolitan Police, the charity provides a smartphone app which, to divert suspicion, ostensibly looks like a game but which gives information regarding forced marriage for victims and carers and allows helplines to be called and emergency help to be summoned. The organisation aims to give every teenager in Britain a copy of Prem's book ‘But It's Not Fair’, a book with governmental recommendation.
Freedom Charity was founded by Aneeta Prem, a magistrate, who was born in India. When working as a karate teacher in London, Prem encountered the problem of forced marriages when teaching martial arts to young women.
Domestic slavery rescue
On 18 October 2013, the organisation was contacted by three women in London saying they had been held as domestic slaves for thirty years. A television documentary on forced marriages, (on 8 October 2013) followed by an interview with Prem describing the work of Freedom Charity, had prompted one of the victims to call the helpline in a “very distressed voice” on 18 October. Charity Freedom contacted the Metropolitan Police who managed the women's rescue with their assistance of which they held secret telephone calls with the captives on 25 October 2013. Two suspects were finally arrested and released on bail following the initial release of their captives about a month ago. The women did not say they had been sexually abused, so the police said, but the person familiar with the case said investigators still suspected they were. Police do not believe the case is one of sexual exploitation or human trafficking, he said, but to label the investigation as domestic servitude or forced labour is ‘far too simplistic’. They were freed from the house in the Lambeth district in South London on Oct. 25, a week after the Irishwoman had contacted the Freedom Charity. She had memorized the charity’s help number after watching a television documentary that featured the group and made a whispered call on a cellphone she had secretly obtained. Two of three women who were allegedly held as slaves in London for at least 30 years met a man via a ‘collective’, police say. Officers said they met "through a shared political ideology" and lived in a “collective”. A couple, arrested on Thursday, 21 November 2013, migrated from (India-born) Singapore and Tanzania in the 1960s, said police. Police confirmed that an initial condition of rescue was that the couple should not be charged. Since that time, they have gained the women’s trust sufficiently to rescue them and to charge the couple. This explains the delay in the arrest of their captors.
“Between 25 October and 21 November none of the three victims were reported missing to the police.”
The Victims The alleged victims – a 30-year-old British woman, a 57 year old Irish woman and a 69 year old Malaysian woman – are now in the care of a specialist non-governmental organisation after they were rescued from what police said was a “residential address” last month. Police said the 30-year-old woman had a birth certificate but no other official papers. British Victims – Mother and Daughter There is still some confusion about the mother of this young Briton called Rosie. The Guardian reported that the British slave called Rosie is believed to be the daughter of the Irishwoman and Balakrishnan. There seem to be another hypothesis on the birth of Rosie. These “collectives” have changed their addresses several times since these last many years since 1960s. The thirty year old victim is presumed to be British subject allegedly born from a lady who died in a fall in 1997 from an upstairs window of a property they lived in Herne Hill, South London in 1997. Rosie (? Davies) has told neighbours that her mother died and she was adopted by the suspects. It now appears a third woman rescued may well be the 30 year old daughter of Sian Davies. Investigators are re-examining the death of Sian Davies, 44, who mysteriously fell from a three-storey Victorian house upstairs bathroom window (third floor) in a house in South London in August, 1997. Ms. Davies's cousin, Eleri Morgan, told British media that she believes that Ms. Davies, who died after spending seven months in hospital, was the mother of the 30-year-old victim. The woman apparently believes Mr. Balakrishnan is her father. Sian Davies, a former student at the London School of Economics who lost touch with her family after becoming involved in far left politics, became paralysed after falling from a bathroom window on Christmas Eve (24 December) in 1996 and died in hospital in August the next year. The coroner described the death as “a mystery”. The 44-year old fell 10metres on to a concrete patio and broke her neck and ultimately died seven months later on August 3, 1997. “The force said it would also review the case of Sian Davies, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1997. She was originally from Tregaron, in Wales, where she was also buried.” Irish Victim The Irish woman slave allegedly held captive for 30 years in a Maoist sect has been revealed as daughter of a World War II codebreaker. Josephine Herivel, aged in her fifties (57), is the daughter of John Herivel, one of the leading codebreakers at Bletchley Park northwest of London, who deciphered the German Enigma code. Brought up with her two sisters, Mary and Susan in Belfast, Herivel joined Balakrishnan's extremist collective in the 1970s after moving to London to study, turning her back on her family, it is claimed. Attempts by her family to make contact failed, according to family friend Frances Presley. They have tried to contact her for years. She was involved in some kind of cult group. Josephine Herivel, one of the women allegedly imprisoned by a Maoist cult, is the daughter of Bletchley Park codebreaker John Herivel. His obituaries made no mention about her and recorded that he was survived by only two (other) daughters, Mary and Susan.
Miss Josephine Herivel, 57, is the daughter of John Herivel, one of the leading codebreakers at Bletchley Park who deciphered the German Enigma code.
She grew up in Northern Ireland, where her father taught at Queen's University Belfast. She moved to London in the 1970s and became a member of the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.
Miss Herivel was arrested in March 1978 when police raided the sect's headquarters, a bookshop in Brixton, South London. She was charged along with five other women with obstructing police officers.
The arrested women included Aishe (sic) Wahab, 69, who is also believed to have been rescued from the sect alongwith their two captors viz Aravindan Balakrishnan and Chanda, his wife.
The women spent six months in Holloway Prison before being convicted. During the trial, they claimed to be political prisoners and chanted "Death to the Fascist State", and "Long Live Chairman Mao".
The trial judge dismissed the offence as "trivial" but condemned the women, saying that he had never come across such bigotry.
Malaysian Victim Another former activist, Hishamuddin Rais, who was in exile in London in the 1970s, said he had been contacted by the brother of Aishah Abdul Wahab. A wealthy family in Malaysia claim that she could be Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab, who went missing after travelling to London on a Commonwealth student scholarship in 1968. NYTs stated that Ms. (Aishah) Wahab, who had come to Britain with her Malaysian fiancé, was so smitten with Mr. Balakrishnan that she threw her engagement ring into the Thames, according to her sister Kamar Mautum, who was interviewed by The Daily Telegraph. A woman in Kuala Lumpur, Kamar Mahtum, 73, retired teacher is believed to have said that one of the three women freed by police last month was her 69 year old sister, Aishah. The Malaysian sister has now been “flown to UK and has been interviewed by The Telegraph exclusively”. Wahab's brother said that he feared his sister was embroiled in a London-based group that followed the teachings of Mao Zedong. Rais, who also lived in Brixton, south London, the base for the Maoist political group cum sect led by Indian-born Balakrishnan, told a Malaysian newspaper that she had been initially involved with a leftwing group in the city called the New Malayan Youth. According the press reports from 1978, a 34-year-old woman called Aishe (sic) Waham was arrested following a police raid on the group’s headquarters. Press reports from 1997 quote an Aisha (sic) Wahab giving evidence at a coroners’ inquest into Sian Davies’ death. A Telegraph report today says the woman was originally known as Aishah Mautum (sic), who moved to Britain in 1968 from Malaysia before becoming involved with the Maoist group. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the identity of the 69-year old Malaysian to be Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab. Khalid also said the woman was a student activist and leftist in the 1970s, and that she was wanted by the police due to her involvement in communist activities during that time, but had fled to London. Balakrishnan's group, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, formed in 1974, is known to have consisted mainly of overseas students in London.
Aravindan Balakrishnan, left, and his wife Chanda, in the wheelchair, are accused of keeping the women as slaves. Credit: ITV News (Perhaps the lady driving the wheelchair may be Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab)
The couple accused of holding three women as domestic slaves in south London for 30 years had been leading lights in a cultlike far-left political group which worshipped the Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong and believed that their area of south London was on the verge of being liberated by China's Red Army. Aravindan Balakrishnan, 73, or Comrade Bala, as he was known – a Maoist Guru, named for the first time on Monday, 25 November 2013, was a senior member of the tiny Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) in the early 1970s, before splitting away in 1974 to form an even more hardline grouping, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. His 67-year-old wife, Chanda, was part of the same grouping, which set itself up in 1976 in a library-cum-commune inside a large Victorian building in Brixton, south London, with about 25 members. Its leader, Balakrishnan, was known at the time as Comrade Bala. The couple arrested last week on 21 November 2013, on suspicion of holding the women captive both were extensively reported earlier to be 67 years. The pair came to Britain in the 1960s were leaders of an alleged extremist Maoist collective in the 1970s. The full information about the complete case may not be available till further month or so due to the psychological trauma involved with these captives, which makes extraction of information very difficult.