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The Slave Next Door

March 16, 2011 by and tagged

And how many more like her?

“A former hospital director has been ordered to pay £25,000 to an African woman she kept as a slave in London.

Mwanahamisi Mruke, 47, was flown from Tanzania in 2006 and made to work 18-hour days for Saeeda Khan, 68, at her home in Harrow, north-west London.

Khan was convicted of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.

The judge at Southwark Crown Court, who also gave her a suspended nine-month prison term, said she was guilty of “the most appalling greed”.”

That is pretty light considering how she treated Mwanahamisi Mruke but the story is familiar:

“”Even the money I was promised, I was never paid. I feel terrible about this,” Ms Mruke said.

“I was hoping I would receive a salary and improve my life. But my hopes were dashed, my strength was reduced and I became unwell.”

Ms Mruke was brought to the UK after getting a job at a hospital in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania which Khan owned.

Khan told her that she would work six hours a day and that her daughter in Tanzania would be paid 120,000 Tanzanian shillings a month, equivalent to £50.

Khan fed her two slices of bread a day and ordered her around by ringing a bell she kept in her bedroom.

(…)

Ms Mruke was banned from leaving the house and never learned English because the family watched Pakistani TV.

Beginning work at 0600 GMT, she would often not be allowed to rest before midnight as she cleaned, gardened, cooked meals and accompanied Khan’s disabled son on walks.

Ms Mruke told the court that sometimes she did not sleep due to the long hours she had to work, doing “all the housework, cooking, cleaning, inside and out”.

“She didn’t attack me physically. It was just the words and the way she was treating me.”"

It is one of the characteristics of modern slavery to be individualized, invisible and ordinary. And, of course, suburbanization makes it possible to keep domestic slaves safely hidden form view.

Posted in Slavery | 1 Comment »



One Response to “The Slave Next Door”

  1.   Arshad Khan Says:

    It is surprising that nobody detected the enslavement of the lady till very late. Saeeda Khan had many visitors coming to her house including health care workers. She must have had other domestic helpers before the present lady. The authorities should not allow this matter to rest here. A thorough investigation is needed to find out as to why the matter remained undiscovered till late.

    Reply

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