ALICANTE, Spain – An Algerian couple in Spain has been arrested for keeping a woman from their homeland as an unpaid slave without even giving her proper food to eat.
The 48-year-old victim, who was not named, had so little to eat that she would often pass out from starvation. When she was finally rescued after alerting neighbors, she was found to have lost 20 kilograms (44 pounds) over the year and was suffering from malnutrition.
The couple lived in luxury home with a swimming pool in Spain but starved the woman and denied her basic human rights.
The victim was exposed to “sub-human conditions”, as per the police statement, sleeping on a makeshift bed in a room with no ventilation and no proper sanitary facilities
She was freed when police raided the house in the town of Agost in the Spanish province of Alicante, and found her living in what was described as appalling conditions with sanitary appliances that did not even work.
The Algerian victim told the authorities that ”she almost never left the house”, which had a swimming pool and plot of land, and even when she did leave, it was under strict observation.
The woman’s captors denied her access to medical treatment even though she claimed to have fainted numerous times due to malnutrition, according to local media.
A non-governmental organization that helps victims of human trafficking is now assisting the woman and has provided her with new accommodation for the time being.
The authorities said the victim was bought to Spain by the married couple who promised her a job and pathway to getting Spanish residency papers, as per the reports.
However, they allegedly took the victim’s passport upon her arrival in Spain and put her to work in the house using the garage to house her.
“In 2019, Spanish authorities reported identifying 467 victims of human trafficking (250 of sex trafficking, 173 of labor trafficking, 24 of forced criminality, and 20 of forced begging, compared with 225 victims (130 of sex trafficking, 80 of labor trafficking, three of forced criminality, and 12 of forced begging) in 2018” as per a report by US department of state.
Since most of the targeted people for human trafficking come from poor backgrounds their financial problems are taken advantage of and exploited.
“They (victims) are also informed of the amount of the debt and the payment terms contracted with the group, which are generally increased by abusive accommodation and maintenance charges, including financial penalties for failure to comply with their “occupational obligations” as per the European Commission.
The couple reportedly used their victim as a source of constant free labor, forcing her to work seven days a week in and around the house.
The man, 50, and woman, 44, have been arrested for human trafficking, exploitation, illegal detention, and crimes against the rights of foreign nationals.
The pair have been released on bail and are under surveillance as they await their trial.
(Edited by Ojaswin Kathuria and Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar.)
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