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Indian woman raped, 'enslaved' for years in three London households

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

world Updated: Apr 20, 2013 22:26 IST
violence against women,liberty,human rights group

Three people, including a wealthy optician, have been found guilty of abusing a 39-year-old Indian woman, who was kept as 'slave' in a multi-million pound luxury home in London 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The woman was beaten, raped and given out-of-date food that made her ill.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.

However, no action was taken after she was bullied into not pursuing matters.

She 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.

According to the report, she stayed in a one-room flat in St John's Wood making sandwiches in the shop below for 2 pound an hour.

She was raped by 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 on a private estate in Middlesex.

She was forced to work seven days a week, 17-hours a day, cooking and cleaning for eight family members.

However, when she fled, her pleas went ignored by police and other organisations on at least 12 occasions, the report said quoting court documents.

The woman's ordeal ended only after 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 Croydon Crown Court.

She escaped and her case was passed to Scotland Yard's trafficking which brought her abusers to justice.

Corinna Ferguson, legal Officer for Liberty, said: "This trial may not have taken place at all had Liberty not reminded the police of their obligations towards victims under the Human Rights Act."

Hertfordshire police said it would be "inappropriate to comment" while elements related to the case were still subject to criminal and civil process.

First Published: Apr 20, 2013 20:21 IST