New York Times

Melbourne couple paid Tamil ‘slave’ $3.39 a day, beat her with frozen chicken over eight years

Melbourne couple paid ‘slave’ $3.39 a day, beat her with a frozen chicken and expected her to be on call 24/7 during eight-year ordeal where she slept one hour a night, court hears

  • Tamil woman allegedly kept as slave was paid $3.39/day, on call 24/7, court told
  • Couple allegedly beat the woman with frozen chicken, injured with boiling water
  • Pair accused of lying to get her into Australia and not intending to let her leave
  • She was taken to hospital in 2015 in an emaciated condition and suffering sepsis


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A Tamil woman allegedly kept as a slave for eight years by a Melbourne couple (accused woman pictured) was a 'tried and tested' good worker who was expected to be on call all hours of the day, jurors have heard

A Tamil woman allegedly kept as a slave for eight years by a Melbourne couple (accused woman pictured) was a ‘tried and tested’ good worker who was expected to be on call all hours of the day, jurors have heard

A Tamil woman allegedly kept as a slave for eight years by a Melbourne couple was a ‘tried and tested’ good worker who was expected to be on call all hours of the day, jurors have heard.

Allegedly motivated to maintain a large home, yearly overseas holidays and part-time work, it’s claimed the couple lied to get her into Australia and had no intention of letting her leave.

They’re on trial in Victoria’s Supreme Court, where prosecutor Richard Maidment QC on Wednesday said their payments to the woman amounted to just $3.39 a day in exchange for childcare, washing, cleaning and preparing meals.

‘She was known to be a person who worked hard and would tolerate being at their beck and call 24/7 during the period she was with them,’ he said.

‘It doesn’t take much to compare that with what one might expect … to have to pay for a live-in housekeeper and childminder.’

The couple have pleaded not guilty to intentionally possessing the woman as a slave.

The woman came to Australia from her home in southern India first in 2004 and stayed for two six-month stints before returning on a one-month tourist visa in July 2007.

Allegedly motivated to maintain a large home, yearly overseas holidays and part-time work, it's claimed the couple lied to get her into Australia to look after their three children and had no intention of letting her leave

Allegedly motivated to maintain a large home, yearly overseas holidays and part-time work, it's claimed the couple lied to get her into Australia to look after their three children and had no intention of letting her leave

Allegedly motivated to maintain a large home, yearly overseas holidays and part-time work, it’s claimed the couple lied to get her into Australia to look after their three children and had no intention of letting her leave

But they never intended that she would leave after a month, Mr Maidment said in his closing remarks to the jury.

The woman was married at 14, had four children and became a grandmother by 29. She had no formal education, was illiterate and had worked in the fields since childhood.

She had hoped to earn money in Australia to help support her family in India, Mr Maidment said.

‘By 6 August 2007 she had become an unlawful non citizen with the full knowledge and connivance of (the couple),’ he said.

It’s also alleged the woman was beaten with a frozen chicken, and injured with boiling water and knives.

But Mr Maidment said it was not on the basis of physical, verbal or emotional abuse by the wife, or that the husband had ‘tacitly condoned’ the conduct by failing to intervene that slavery was alleged.

It's also alleged the woman was beaten with a frozen chicken, and injured with boiling water and knives

It's also alleged the woman was beaten with a frozen chicken, and injured with boiling water and knives

It’s also alleged the woman was beaten with a frozen chicken, and injured with boiling water and knives

He said there were controls and fundamental deprivations of her rights and freedoms.

The woman said she had been unable to even open the front door without the couple’s permission and that with the amount of chores she was given she slept only an hour a night.

She was taken to hospital in September 2015 in an emaciated condition and suffering sepsis.

Mr Maidment said the couple’s motivation was clear.

‘It was crystal clear they wanted essentially to import a true, tried and tested childcare worker and domestic servant knowing they could pay next to nothing so they could continue living in and maintain a five-bedroom home, a lifestyle where (the wife) could contemplate a part-time job … and also afford trips overseas pretty much every year,’ he said.

The trial is continuing.


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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