Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Maryland Couple Indicted for Holding Filipino Woman in Domestic Servitude

The Washington Post recently reported that a local couple of Upper Malboro, MD was indicted for illegally holding a Filipino woman in domestic servitude within their home. The woman (whose name is not being disclosed for her own safety) was allegedly forced to cook, clean, garden, and perform other domestic tasks, receiving no more than $50 a month for her services. According to the indictment, the couple procured a fraudulent visa to allow the woman to enter the U.S., and then repeatedly abused, threatened, and assaulted her to ensure her continued service within their home. During this time, the couple allegedly withheld pay and travel documents belonging to the woman, forbidding her to send funds or visit her family and eight children. They are now facing serious charges, including forced labor and domestic servitude. If convicted, each could possibly face up to a 50-year sentence and as much as a $250,000 fine.

For more on this story, click here.

Unfortunately, human trafficking is prevalent throughout the United States. Human Rights USA is in the process of bringing a similar case on behalf of our client, Ms. Reena Patel (a pseudonym used for her safety), involving charges of forced labor, involuntary servitude, and trafficking. Shortly after her marriage in India, Ms. Patel's in-laws brought her to the United States against her will, violating a contract they had made previously with her father. The contract provided that Ms. Patel be allowed to finish her schooling in India, which her in-laws did not permit. When they arrived in the U.S., Ms. Patel was forced to become a domestic servant in her in-law's home while her husband lived in an entirely different state. She was forced to work a daily schedule, which began at 5 am and ended around 11 pm. She was subjected to verbal and physical abuse, surveillance, coercion, and constant threats of divorce, which is greatly stigmatized in India.

By providing legal support for survivors of human trafficking who want to pursue their rights in court and hold the perpetrators accountable, Human Rights USA works to ensure that similar cases will stop appearing in our headlines and that human rights standards will be upheld in our community.

For more on Human Rights USA's other work for survivors of human trafficking, please visit our website.

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