Melbourne Couple Denies Keeping Indian Migrant as Slave

Melbourne residents Kumuthini and Kandasamy Kannan have denied charges of enslaving an Indian woman and mistreating her.


Melbourne residents Kumuthini and Kandasamy Kannan have denied charges of enslaving an Indian immigrant, and beating and mistreating her till she collapsed. The Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Dec. 11 that while the couple and their children were on holiday in 2015, the woman was locked inside the house without a key and was unable to leave.

The Indian immigrant was working for the Kannans, who too hail from India, and her chores included cooking, cleaning, and helping to raise their three children, AAP reported.

The Kannans have each been charged with possessing a slave between July 2007 and July 2015, exercising ownership over a slave, and harboring an unlawful non-citizen.

They have, however, denied the allegations, claiming “all her needs were met” and that their children regarded her as a grandmother. A five-day committal hearing began in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Dec. 11 to determine if the Kannans will stand trial.

The court has also been told that Kumuthini Kannan used to beat the woman, and that the maid had to make do with rice and tea if her tasks were not up to the mark. The hearing continues, the report added.

In 2015, the woman had to be taken to Box Hill Hospital after she was allegedly found lying in a pool of her own urine at the Kannan household. Kumuthini Kannan called triple zero and the paramedics found the woman suffering from severe hypothermia and in an altered state of consciousness.

The hospital records showed that the woman had a case of urinary sepsis that would have been fatal if left untreated, and type 2 diabetes. She was also malnourished and had lesions on her hands and feet. The woman’s teeth had also fallen out.

It is alleged that despite being promised Rs 7,000 (about $A143) per month, she was never paid. It was the daughter and the son-in-law of this woman who arranged for her to work at Kannan’s household.

The woman testified via a video during the hearing on Dec. 11, with the help of an interpreter. She hoped to return to India soon.

This is not the first case where a domestic help from India has been tortured. In 2012, an Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra in the United States was held guilty of subjecting her maid to slavery. A U.S. court ruled that the victim be awarded a compensation of $1.5 million. The judge held that the victim had to be awarded money for suffering barbaric treatment at the hands of her employers.

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