Metropolitan Police from the Human Trafficking Unit arrested 73-year-old Aravindan Balakrishnan and his wife, 67-year-old Chanda Pattni at their residential address in Brixton in South London. They were investigated for slavery and domestic servitude.
Three women had been rescued from the same residence in October 2013 having been held against their will for more than 30 years. Aishah Wahab, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and Josephine Herivel, a 57-year-old Irish woman met the male suspect, also known as “Comrade Bala” in London through a shared political ideology, as he was the former Maoist leader of the Workers’ Institute of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought. Rosie Davies, a 30 year old British woman is thought to have spent her whole life in servitude under Balakrishnan.
The women were not physically restrained, but held by subjection to brainwashing, emotional abuse and physical abuse. Police were tipped off from a charity supporting victims of forced marriage. The charity had received a phone call from the women who had been watching the ITV documentary Forced To Marry.
In December 2015, Balakrishnan was convicted of child cruelty, false imprisonment, four counts of rape, six counts of indecent assault and two counts of assault. Chanda Pattni, was released earlier in 2014, as there was considered to be insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
Balakrishnan was sentenced to 23-years imprisonment in January 2016.
The Dark Figure* is an ongoing photographic project that investigates and documents UK neighbourhoods where victims have been identified as modern-day slaves.
Photo: Peckford Place, Brixton, Lambeth, London, courtesy of The Dark Figure