- The accused husband and wife have pleaded not guilty
- The woman visited Australia twice before allegedly being kept against her will on the third visit in 2007
- She was admitted to intensive care at Box Hill Hospital after collapsing in 2015
The woman’s alleged captors, a husband and wife from Mount Waverley, appeared on Wednesday in Victoria’s Supreme Court.
The accused, who can only be referred to by the initials KK and KK, have been charged with possessing and using the woman as a slave between 2007 and 2015.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutor Richard Maidment QC told the court the husband and wife “interfered” with the woman’s freedoms of choice, movement and communication.
Mr Maidment said the woman’s right to proper care was “usurped”.
He also said the accused couple did not pay the woman for looking after their three children.
“Each of them exercised such a degree of control over fundamental rights and freedoms … as to constitute a state of slavery,” Mr Maidment said.
Woman allegedly kept against will after third visit to Australia
The Supreme Court heard the couple had met the woman, who cannot be named, while visiting the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Before she was allegedly enslaved, the woman visited Australia twice to work for the couple and was able to return home to India.
But the court heard things soured when she returned to Australia for a third visit in July 2007, and she did not leave for eight years.
“The origins of the whole arrangement were that [the victim] would be paid,” Mr Maidment said.
“She worked very hard. During the whole of the eight years … she’ll say to you that all she received by the way of payment in Australia were the odd $5 or $10 note here and there that might have been given to her on her birthday,” he said.
While she stayed with the couple, the woman was responsible for caring for their three children, cooking and folding clothes.
Over time, the court heard the woman’s contact with her own family in India became more intermittent.
Requests to return the woman to her family were allegedly met by the couple with hostility, with the wife allegedly saying in one email: “Get f***ed”.
Alleged victim found in ’emaciated’ condition
In July 2015, the woman collapsed on the bathroom floor and was taken to the Box Hill Hospital where she was taken to intensive care.
The paramedics who had responded found the woman in a pool of her own urine, shivering, and with a temperature of 28.5 degrees Celsius. She weighed 40 kilograms.
“She was said to be in an emaciated condition,” Mr Maidment said.
Police interviewed the woman in hospital and she later told them she was not allowed to talk to investigators without her alleged female captor present.
“She feared that [the accused] would not return her to India and would not pay her the money she was owed for the work she had done,” Mr Maidment said.
The trial continues.