Feb 20 2013 By Zoe Drewett
AN OPTICIAN from Northwood held a blade to the throat of a modern day slave and threatened to bury her in the garden, a court has heard.
Shashi Obhrai, 54, of Pembroke Road, Northwood, appeared at Croydon Crown Court for her part in the human trafficking of an Indian woman.
The alleged victim was brought from Hyderabad, in India, where she lived in poverty, with the promise of work and money for her family.
Instead, the woman was passed between three households as a sex slave before finally making her escape after she was threatened by Obhrai, jurors at Croydon Crown Court were told.
Optician Obhrai allegedly held a knife to the woman's throat and threatened to bury her in the garden, stating that no one would know she died.
The 39-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, initially came to the country to work for supermarket manager Aleemuddin Mohammed, 35 and his wife, secretary Shamina Yousuf, 33 at their home in Edgware. While there she was beaten by Yousuf and sexually assaulted by Mohammed. She was then passed on to a second couple, Mohammed’s mother, Shanaz Begum, a 57-year-old shop worker, and her butcher husband, Enkarta Balapovi, 53, who allegedly raped the Indian woman.
She then went to work for Obhrai, who forced her to eat leftovers and threatened her with a knife when she tried to complain to the police.
Prosecutor Caroline Haughey told the court: “‘She is a young woman who was trafficked into the UK for the purposes of servitude.
“She was treated as chattel, an object passed from person to person, abused physically, mentally and sexually, and deprived of her basic human rights that each of us have come to expect and accept as normal in our everyday lives.
“She was denied her passport, her only form of identifying who she was, she was deprived of her bank books, she was given degrading sleeping arrangements.
“She was abused by each of these defendants both together, and separately.
“They treated her with contempt and ignored her basic rights, taking advantage of a woman who was illiterate and uneducated, and with the most basic understanding of our cultural Western norms.”
Ms Haughey said the alleged victim, 39, worked in her homeland for Mohammed’s father for meagre wages before being lured to Britain with promises of work as a nanny on a salary of less than £500 a month, although her family in India only ever received the equivalent of £24 a month.
Obhrai denies trafficking within the UK as well as causing actual bodily harm and making threats to kill. Mohammed, now of Sefton Avenue, Harrow, denies trafficking the woman to the UK from India and sexual assault.Yousuf of Pavilion Way, Edgware, denies assault causing actual bodily harm.Begum and Balapovi, both of Charlbert Street, St John’s Wood, north-west London, deny two counts each of trafficking within the UK.Balapovi also denies five counts of rape.
The trial continues.