Bail denied US couple enslaving domestic workers

11 June 2007

A couple in New York arrested for enslaving two migrant domestic workers and indicted on federal slavery charges, was denied bail on 11 June.

Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and her husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani were arrested on 15 May after one of the domestic workers escaped and was found by police.

The Sabhnanis brought the women from Indonesia to the United States to work as domestic servants in 2002. Despite promising them US$200 and US$100 per month, they received nothing. They were forced to work from 4.00am to 1.00am, seven days a week. They were only allowed out at night in order to empty the rubbish and were treated with brutality.

The women said they were fed so little that in desperation they had to take extra food from their employer and hide it.

The Sabhnanis are charged with two counts of forced labour; the trial date is 10 September.