US couple convicted of 'slavery'

Couple face 40 years' jail for abusing two Indonesian domestic workers.

    The women said for years they were beaten, scalded 
    with hot water and forced to eat their own vomit
    The couple were allowed to return to their multi-million dollar home after Varsha Sabhnani was released from hospital but have to appear in court again on Tuesday.
     

    Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani and Varsha run a
    multimillion-dollar perfume business

    The judge also ordered the jury to return on Tuesday so that each juror could be individually polled to confirm the verdict.
     
    Prosecutors said the couple, both US citizens born in India, brought two women, identified only as Samirah, 51, and Enung, 47, to the US from Indonesia with promises to pay them $200 a month for housekeeping duties.
     
    But the women testified that they were paid only $100 to $150 a month and had their passports confiscated.
     
    They said that for years they were subjected to beatings with rolling pins and brooms, scalding with hot water and being forced to eat their own vomit and chilli peppers for "offences" such as sleeping late or eating food from the rubbish.
     

    Found on streets
     
    Prosecutors said the women were forced to sleep on mats and had to steal food to get enough to eat.
     

    The women said they were punished for
    "offences" such as eating from the rubbish

    Defence lawyers argued that the women injured themselves in witchcraft rituals, made up the story of being abused and were looking for a way to remain in the US.

     
    They plan to appeal against the decision. Samirah was found by the authorities in May wandering the streets dressed only in pants and a towel after escaping from the couple's home in Muttontown, New York, where they run a multimillion-dollar perfume business.
     
    She was treated at a local hospital for injuries to her ears, face, arms, neck, chest and back that she told officials were caused by torture inflicted by Varsha Sabhnani.
     
    Enung was found by the authorities in the home hiding in a closet.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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