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Indian woman raped, abused and kept as slave in UK: Report

Source : AGENCIES
Last Updated: Sat, Apr 20, 2013 16:33 hrs

London: Three people, including a wealthy optician, have been found guilty of abusing a 39-year-old illiterate Indian woman, who was kept as slave in a multi-million pound luxury home here and was raped while being passed between three families.

The mother of four from Hyderabad, whose identity was not revealed, was employed in three London households as a nanny and domestic worker.

The woman was beaten, raped and given out of date food that made her ill. The court heard that the victim was barely given a proper meal.



The woman was kept as a prisoner, given virtually no money and had her passport confiscated, the Independent reported.

The victim has been left in a wheelchair in part because of the injuries sustained at the hands of the abusers. She has lodged a claim against the Hertfordshire force which initially investigated the case.

Obhrai, 54, of Moor Park, Middlesex and Yousuf, 33, of Edgware, north London, were both convicted on Friday of assault. Obhrai, an opticiain, was additionally convicted of threats to kill.

Balapovi, 54, of St John's Wood, northwest London, was convicted of rape by a jury at Croydon Crown Court. Two other defendants were acquitted.

They will be sentenced next month.

The woman, described as one of society's most vulnerable people, came to Britain in 2005 to try to make a better living and to send money to her family in Hyderabad.

But when she sought help she was threatened by her keepers, rebuffed or failed to make herself understood by authorities.

In one case, a professional interpreter told a police officer investigating the case: "She's telling a lot of lies - it's common in her country," the court heard.

Police investigated while she was with three different families but critics say that the incidents did not appear to have been connected.

She was first taken to hospital in 2006 with a gashed foot after her employer Shamina Yousuf, 33, hurled a cup at her.

The woman, said to be an "illiterate" Indian, made desperate pleas for help to Hertfordshire police as well as charities and other state agencies. But when police officers spoke to her, one of her "powerful and well-connected abusers" was used as an interpreter, The Independent said.

The woman was handed back to her "slave master", and she was again attacked and threatened that she would be buried in the back garden of the man's luxury home for ruining his family name.

Three people - an optician, a butcher and a secretary - were convicted of her abuse that spanned more than three years.

The woman was passed between the families, kept like a prisoner, given virtually no money and had her passport confiscated, the report said.

However, when she fled, her pleas went ignored by police and other organisations on at least 12 occasions, according to court documents.

The woman's ordeal ended only after she was taken in by a migrant workers' charity and human rights' group Liberty took up her case.

"Various state agencies failed her, ignoring her repeated pleas for help, not adhering to their own investigative practice and it could be said ignoring the obvious," Caroline Haughey, counsel for the prosecution, told the Croydon Crown Court.

The woman came to Britain in 2005 to try to make a better life and to send money to her family in India's Hyderabad city.

When she sought help, she was threatened by her keepers. In one case, a professional interpreter told police that the woman was "telling a lot of lies - it's common in her country", the court heard.

She was first taken to hospital in 2006 with a gashed foot after her "employer" named Shamina Yousuf, 33, hurled a cup at her.

However, no action was taken after she was bullied her into not pursuing matters, the report said.

The woman fled after more than two years but returned to work for other relatives of the family to try to secure the return of her passport.

The court heard that the woman stayed in a one-room flat in St. John's Wood, and was raped by a butcher, Enkarta Balapovi, on several occasions.

The woman finally moved to the home of an acquaintance, Shashi Obhrai and her IT consultant husband Balram, who lived in Middlesex. She was forced to work seven days a week, 17-hours-a-day, cooking and cleaning for eight family members.

She escaped and her case was passed to Scotland Yard's trafficking unit.

Obhrai, 54, of Moor Park, Middlesex and Yousuf, 33, of Edgware, north London, have been convicted of assault.

Obhrai, an optician, was additionally convicted of threats to kill.

Balapovi, 54, of St. John's Wood, northwest London, was convicted of rape.

They will be sentenced next month. Two other defendants were acquitted.

The victim, who was not named for legal reasons, has been left in a wheelchair in part because of the injuries sustained at the hands of her abusers.

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