`Enslaved' Indian woman finally gets justice in UK

butcher.jpg

London: A north London butcher, who had been found guilty of five counts of rape of an Indian woman last month, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The Hyderabad woman, who cannot be named, had moved to the UK in 2005 and was badly abused and mistreated by three families with whom she worked as a nanny and domestic worker. The mother of four, believed to be about 40-years-old, was treated like a slave and was sexually abused. The trial included witness statements from Hyderabad via video link.
Fifty-four-year-old Enkarta Balapovi, a butcher in St. Johns Wood, had been found guilty by a jury in Croydon crown court last month along with 54-year-old Shashi Kala Obhrai and 33-year-old Shamina Yousuf of treating the Indian woman like a slave and sexually abusing her.
Shashi Kala Obhrai, an optician, was given a suspended sentence of three years and two months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and making threats to kill. Thirty-three-year-old Shamina Yousuf, a secretary from Edgware was given 40 hours of community service for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The woman’s ordeal is not over as yet as another man, arrested last year, is to face charges in the case. Liberty is also “bringing a civil claim against the police” on her behalf “for their failure to investigate and protect her from a breach of Article 4, the prohibition on slavery and servitude.” 
The woman, who spoke no English when she arrived in the UK on domestic worker visa, was subjected to several years of terrifying cruelty and violence in three different households in London by three couples she worked for.
The victim first worked for Shamina Yousuf and her husband at their family home in Edgware. She worked for them for almost three years as they refused to return her passport. Shamina Yousuf once threw a mug at her foot, inflicting a two-inch gash.
It was then arranged for the victim to work for Balapovi and his partner in their single-room flat in St. Johns Wood. Her passport was kept by the couple for whom she worked for four months.
She was made to sleep on the hard kitchen floor, between a fridge and washbasin, and was made to work a lot. She was also raped on five occasions by the man.
In October 2007, the Hyderabad woman was sent on to work for Shashi Obhrai, an optician who also ran a visa service, and her husband at their home in Northwood.
“The victim was then forbidden to leave the house and made to work 16 hour shifts with no breaks, seven days a week. Over the six months the victim worked there, Shashi Obhrai subjected her to horrendous physical abuse including burning her with an iron, threatening to hurt her with insulin needles, hitting her over the head with a rolling pin because Shashi didn't like how she made chapattis, beating her on the back with high heel shoes until she was sick, attacking the victim with her nails, leaving scars, forcing the teeth of a comb into her head, pushing/dragging her by her hair down the stairs,” the Metropolitan police said.
She eventually managed to escape to safety in 2008, but the police investigation into the abuses – trafficking and forced labour - only started in 2010 once her case was taken up by Liberty, a rights organisation in London.
In a statement, the Indian woman said the convicts had ruined her life. “I have had a really bad experience with these people. They have made my life hell. I have suffered with depression and sleepless nights for a very long time. I have to take medication so that I can get some sleep. They have treated me so badly that I worry at night that they will come for me. Shashi Obhrai put a hot iron on my arm when I asked her for my earnings to be paid. She told me that she would do it. I told her that the iron was on and she said, 'Have a look, is it hot or not?', and put the iron on me. These people are dangerous they have ruined my life and kept me away from my children. Each should be punished for their wrongdoings,” she said.

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