Indian woman gets jail for treating brother's wife as slave

Last Updated : 21 June 2012, 11:14 IST
Last Updated : 21 June 2012, 11:14 IST

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The sister-in-law of an Indian woman, who came to the US after an arranged marriage, has been sentenced to two years in prison for physically assaulting her and treating her as a slave.

Rajani Jagota, 32, was convicted in February this year on charges of labour trafficking and assault, Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said here.

"Simply put, this is a tragic case of modern-day slavery. The victim was physically assaulted, psychologically coerced and fearful of reporting the often-daily abuse to authorities. This defendant will pay a very heavy price for her actions," Zugibe said.

The victim, now 25-years-old, is an Indian citizen who came to the US after an arranged marriage with Vishal Jagota.

The defendant, along with her mother, Parveen Jagota and brother using intimidation, physical abuse and manipulation to force the victim to work as a round-the-clock servant, performing a variety of household chores, cooking, child care and other tasks under threats of violence.

When the victim threatened to contact authorities, the Jagotas vowed to concoct wild stories, accusing her of committing various types of crime.

On one occasion, Parveen and Rajani burned the victims' hand with a hot iron in order to "teach her a lesson", following their displeasure with her ironing skills.

The victim's sister-in-law also forbade the victim from receiving medical treatment for the serious burn, telling her to treat the open  wound with toothpaste.

The victim was forced to face her captors for nearly three years, beginning shortly after her arrival in New York in January 2008 until September 2010.

"Despite relentless exploitation, trapped in dehumanizing conditions, the victim in this case exhibited enormous strength by coming forward and participating in the prosecution of her captors," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Arthur Ferraro.

"Victims of human trafficking rarely break free. When they do, most are too wary of authorities to detail their personal nightmare. Hopefully, this case has raised awareness of the plight of people caught in the dark world of modern-day slavery."

This case marks the first indictments, trial and convictions under New York State's new human trafficking law.

Parveen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24, 2012.

The victim's husband, who was convicted of assault for biting her, was sentenced last month to probation.

Published 21 June 2012, 11:08 IST

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