UK: Indian housekeeper claims she was treated as ‘slave’

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

 It appears from recent articles in the ‘Red Tops’ Newspapers that certain members of Her Majesties Government have been keeping ‘Slaves’ under their tables.

Whilst I’m sure large proportions of this story,  “Indian housekeeper claims she was treated as ‘slave'” has a sensational angle, as only ‘The Sun’ can produce, the subject itself has many merits.

Nannies working in the UK. Where does the line between being exploited and having a fair wage meet? Do some persons exploit that thin line?

The answer isn’t easy. I’m sure if you scrape away at the veneer of this case there will be hidden all sorts of different angles and persons taking advantage.

I have to confess that some of the most difficult cases I had to review whilst working on The Human Trafficking Team were cases not unlike this.

I attended a very respectable premises in Belgravia, Central London where a Canadian lady had contact a Human Rights group to inform them that she believed a woman she had just seen in an apartment she was visiting. The woman was from the Indian sub continent and was living with a family from The Middle East. She had witnessed the lady eating her food from a plate while she was squatted on the floor. The woman looked undernourished and mistreated.

The Human Rights Group contacted my office directly and like a good Knight in shining armour I marched over to the apparent.

The couple who were living in the apartment invited me in and I explained who I was and what I was at the premises for.

Can you imagine opening the door to an imposing Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant who then began to question you about who was living at the premises.

I was directed to the said Indian sub continent lady. She was indeed very thin.

She spoke no English. However she showed me her room which was nicely furnished, she had lovely clothes hung in her closet. Through Language Line, a system that allows a three way conversation with a person in their tongue I was able to establish that she was being paid, she was happy to be in employment, she had a visa issued by The British Government to work in the UK for this couple. Everything appear to be fine. I then discovered that one of the children she had been caring for had died on the operating table that morning. The family were in mourning, as was she and that The family were worried for her because she was so distraught over the loss of this child. When I pointed out she had been witnessed eating her food from the floor they told me that they had often tried to insist she didn’t eat that way, it was a cultural thing and as she was so upset they had decided to let it go that day.

My white knight armour well and truly dented I retreated. It didn’t help me either that the couple were highly ranked Egyptian Police Officials. Fortunately they didn’t complain about the incident. They had other things to worry about and were flying the body of their dead child home the next day.

This didn’t stop the Canadian Lady complaining that I had let the couple off.

The whole story was all the more strange in that the apartment was directly opposite Belgravia Police Station and the Canadian woman hadn’t felt strongly enough to walk in there and make the issue known. No she had contact a not that well known Civil rights lawyer who had in turn put her on to this Human Rights Group.

I hope this example doesn’t sound like I am pointing the finger in any direction for blame. It was a learning curve for me and I hope for others.

But when we have cultural differences mixed with different genetics and language difficulties the cake that often pops out of the mixing bowl isn’t always going to taste the way it looks.

Beware of the way you approach the way you think. We can often confuse issues with using our own measuring stick when the measurements don’t fit.

I hope you follow me there?


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