London: A 40-year-old woman, said to be an "illiterate" Indian, was beaten, raped and given out-of-date food and passed between three middle-class families as a slave for many years in Britain, a daily reported. The woman 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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