JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Slave house woman reunited with Malaysian sister after 40 years

Date

Martin Evans

"40 years older, the beautiful young girl had gone": An old portrait of Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab.

"40 years older, the beautiful young girl had gone": An old portrait of Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab. Photo: AFP

The Malaysian woman allegedly held against her will for more than 30 years has had an emotional reunion with the sister she has not seen for more than 40 years.

Aishah Wahab, 69, had not spoken to her older sister, Kamar Mahtum, since 1968, when, after moving to London to study, she got swept up in left-wing politics and entered a Maoist collective. Such was her isolation from her family she was unaware their mother had died 19 years ago.

After being released last week from the south London sect where it is claimed she and two other women were subjected to years of brainwashing and abuse, Ms Wahab was reunited with her sister at a secret location in the north of England.

Mrs Mahtum, 73, who flew to London immediately after learning her sister had been found, said she was doing well but was a different person to the bright student who left Malaysia full of ambition at the end of the 1960s.

Mrs Mahtum, a retired teacher, said: ''At first I didn't recognise her. She looked very different, of course: 40 years older, the beautiful young girl had gone. But then again I am also an old woman now.''

She said the first thing the pair did was to hug one another for a long time as the years of separation fell away.

''I cried - first out of relief, but then out of anger and then out of frustration. She asked me, 'How is mum?' and I said, 'Mum is gone.'

''She did not show any emotion at that point. She had tears in her eyes, but I think they were out of respect for me. But I had the sob of my life.''

During the 40-minute reunion, the sisters did not discuss the conditions in which Ms Wahab and the other rescued women had been living, nor their alleged captors, Aravindan Balakrishnan and his wife, Chanda Pattni.

But Mrs Mahtum said her sister insisted she had been happy and had a lot of friends in London. ''When I asked her about what had gone on she just clammed up. The only thing she wanted me to perceive is that she is happy. She told me, 'I have got friends here, I work here. I do important work here', but she could not reveal what it was she did.''

Ms Wahab and the other two alleged ''slaves'' - Josephine Herivel, 57, from Northern Ireland and 30-year-old Rosie Davies - were released last month after the Freedom Charity received a call from one of the women complaining they had been held against their will for about 30 years.

Mrs Mahtum said her sister had promised to return to Malaysia to be reunited with the rest of her family once the British police investigation was completed.

Telegraph, London

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo