Indians convicted of harassing daughter-in-law

New York: A US court has convicted three members of an Indian family here on charges of sexually abusing their daughter-in-law who came to America after an arranged marriage and was threatened to work as a slave.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Vishal Jagota, 34, his mother Parveen Jagota, 57 and sister Rajani Jagota, 31 were found guilty after a bench trial of labour trafficking and assault charges for using intimidation, threats and physical violence to force the young woman into a life of "servitude and sexual abuse".

Parveen Jagota and Rajani Jagota face up to seven years in state prison when sentenced on May 22, 2012 before Judge William Nelson, while Vishal Jagota faces up to one year in the Rockland County jail.

Assistant District Attorney Arthur Ferraro said the case marked the first indictments, trial and convictions under New York State?s new Labour Trafficking Law.

"These convictions underscore our serious commitment to prosecuting those defendants who would prey on vulnerable – and in many cases young – victims," Zugibe said.

"Human trafficking is a violent and degrading crime that will not be tolerated."

The victim, now 25-years-old, is an Indian citizen who was brought to the US five years ago after an arranged marriage with Vishal Jagota.

The family used intimidation, physical and sexual abuse and manipulation to force the victim to work as a "round-the-clock servant, performing a variety of household chores, cooking, child care and other tasks under threats of violence," according to court documents. .

When the victim, whose name was not revealed, threatened to contact authorities, the Jagotas vowed to concoct "wild stories", accusing her of committing various types of crime.

On one occasion, the woman`s mother-in-law and sister-in-law burned her hand with a hot iron in order to "teach her a lesson" for not washing the clothes properly.

The victim was not allowed to receive medical treatment for the serious burns and was told to treat the open wound with "toothpaste".

Vishal Jagota is also accused of biting the victim, causing permanent scarring on her cheek. The woman was forced to face her captors for nearly three years, from her arrival in the US in 2008 until September 2010, Zugibe added.

The woman`s father-in-law was accused of touching her sexually but was later acquitted. The Jagotas had also hidden the woman`s green card, passport and other documents that restricted her movement and forced her to comply with her in-laws` demands, the documents said.