An Indian woman who was allegedly kept as a slave by a couple in Melbourne, Australia for eight years was discovered by authorities in a pool of her own urine.
The Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday heard that the woman, who took care of the Melbourne couple’s three children, weighed just 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and had no teeth, ABC News reported.
The couple, referred to by the initials KK and KK, has been charged with intentionally possessing a slave and intentionally exercising the right of ownership over a slave between 2007 and 2015. However, the couple denied the charges.
Prosecutor Richard Maidment told the court the husband and wife “interfered” with the woman’s freedoms of choice, movement, and communication.
“Each of them exercised such a degree of control over fundamental rights and freedoms … as to constitute a state of slavery,” Maidment said, ABC News reported.
On Thursday, the second day of the trial, the court was told how the woman had come to Australia to work for the couple in 2007.
The victim had come to Australia twice before to work for the couple, but she was not allowed to leave on her third visit in 2007.
The court was told the victim met the couple in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and made an “arrangement” via her son-in-law.
“The origins of the whole arrangement were that [the victim] would be paid,” Maidment said, News.com reported.
“She worked very hard. During the whole of the eight years … she’ll say to you that all she received by the way of payment in Australia were the odd $5 or $10 note here and there that might have been given to her on her birthday,” he said.
Over time, the court heard that the woman, who is in her 50s, had little contact with her family back home, and their requests to return her were met with hostility.
More details about how the woman was treated emerged during the trial. When the family went on a holiday, the victim was reportedly locked up in the house.
The woman’s teeth were allegedly pulled out after they started to wobble, the wife told the police, News.com reported. She added the victim did not have dentures. The court was then told the victim ate mash and “mainly drank tea.”
The jury also heard the woman’s son-in-law had arranged for her to work for the family – under the impression she would be paid.
“In the early days she would be allowed to speak on the phone with her son-in-law and daughter two or three times a year, but from about 2012 contact slowed to almost nothing,” Mr Maidment said.
When her daughter sent an email to the couple asking for her mother to be sent back to India she received two replies.
The first simply said ‘get f**ked’ while the second said, in all capitals, ‘tell her to go f**k herself’, the court heard.
Her family in India then contacted Australian authorities who launched an investigation.
Earlier the court heard visa applications for the woman included a letter to her from the couple, describing them as ‘eternally grateful’ for her help.
Mr Maidment said the letter was written in English, purportedly to the victim who was an illiterate Tamil speaker who didn’t know English.
He described it as ‘window dressing’.
The trial is still ongoing.
Read more on our Metro News Page
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