Woman ‘escapes after being held captive as sex slave for 31 years’ in Venezuela

Matias Salazar charged with sexual slavery, sexual violence and psychological violence

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 12 February 2020 14:53
Woman ‘escapes after being held captive as sex slave for 31 years’ in Venezuela

A man has been charged with holding a woman captive in an apartment as a sex slave for 31 years during a campaign of abuse in Venezuela.

Matias Salazar, 56, is accused of sexual violence, sexual slavery and psychological violence against the 49-year-old woman.

Prosecutors claim he “manipulated and deceived” the woman while she was still a teenager “so she would leave her home”.

The woman reportedly spent three decades in the dark as she was unable to look out of the window and spent her time listening to the radio and watching television, according to Venezuelan news website Cronica Uno.

She allegedly finally managed to escape the apartment on 24 January after Mr Salazar left a set of keys behind and sought help at a branch of a state-run women’s advocacy agency.

Mr Salazar was later arrested in the city of Maracay, near the capital of Caracas, and continues to be held in custody at a police station.

Residents living near the apartment block where the woman was held said Mr Salazar had lived for years with another woman and his daughter in a building across the street.

Several said they had not noticed anything out of the ordinary and that Mr Salazar had always been friendly to them.

Mr Salazar’s defence lawyer Jose Briceno told a press conference his client was innocent and a victim of a media campaign, according to an internet broadcast of his statements.

The case was first brought to public attention on 5 February when it was published by Venezuelan online news portal Cronica Uno.

The woman subsequently returned to the flat accompanied by prosecutors, according to neighbours.

One neighbour, who entered the property with the woman and the prosecutors, and spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “She had three changes of clothes inside that apartment, some old shoes, a twin bed on the floor, an old fan, an old TV.

“People attack the neighbours, asking why we did not report it, but we really did not know.”

If you have been affected by sexual violence, you can find help via the NHS. Rape Crisis offers specialist support for women and girls; and the The Survivors’ Trust supports people of any gender.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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