A woman in Italy has been rescued after she was held captive inside an underground cellar for 10 years, during which she was repeatedly raped and gave birth to two children under horrific conditions, local officials say. A man has been arrested.
The woman, who is originally from Romania, came to Italy as a teenager and began working as a caretaker for the suspect’s wife. After the woman died, the 19-year-old woman was taken captive and forced to stay inside an underground cellar outside the home in Gizzeria in southern Italy.
During her captivity, the woman was chained to the ground and forced to sleep on a bed made of cardboard. She was also forced to eat spoiled food and even her own excrement to stay alive, according to Italian media, which reported that she seemed “paralyzed” when she was finally discovered.
The suspect, a 52-year-old man whose identity has not been released, is accused of repeatedly raping the now 29-year-old woman during the 10-year-long ordeal, during which two children were born. The children, a 3-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, were both severely neglected and unwashed.
Italian media reported that the children witnessed the abuse and the boy was at times forced to participate in the abuse of his mother. The cellar was also infested with mice and insects and the victims had no access to water or electricity. Buckets were used as a toilet.
The situation was discovered after the suspect was stopped by police while in the company of the 9-year-old boy. Police became suspicious when they noticed that the boy was dirty and malnourished, after which the officers demanded to see the child’s mother.
The suspect accompanied the officers to his home, where they discovered the woman and her daughter. All three victims were rescued and turned over to the care of social services. The man was taken into custody on multiple charges, including domestic violence, slavery, and sexual assault.
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