HomeIndian AmericanWoman sentenced to 15 years for forced labor

Woman sentenced to 15 years for forced labor

image via Flickr Creative Commons by WP Paarz

Sharmistha Barai, 40, was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for human trafficking and forced labor violations, reports India West.

Barai, a former resident of Stockton, California, and her husband Satish Kartan were previously found guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor.

According to News India Times, the couple hired overseas workers to perform domestic labor in their Stockton home.

The defendants put advertisements for workers on India-based newspapers and the internet, in which they made false promises about the wages and working hours.

Workers hired by Barai and Karan were subjected to 18-hour work days while being deprived of proper rest or food, according to the Department of Justice in the Eastern District of California. Many of these workers were unpaid.

Workers who tried to leave say that they were kept from doing so. The DOJ also says the couple forced these workers to continue performing labor for them “by threatening them, by creating an atmosphere of fear, control, and disempowerment, and at times by physically hitting or burning them.”

One victim testified that Barai threatened to kill her, struck her, and forced the victim’s hands onto a gas stove, causing her to suffer first and second-degree burns. Others say that the couple also coerced them to continue working by threatening to report them to the police or immigration authorities.

“The defendants’ horrendous conduct, done in the privacy of their home, was publicly exposed during the trial,” said McGregor W. Scott, US Attorney of the Eastern District of California. “One by one the victims told their stories of the brutality they experienced: long hours of labor, inadequate food, and physical assault. Today’s sentence sends a clear message to others that systematic brutality against vulnerable victims will not be tolerated.”

Karan is scheduled to be sentenced on October 22.

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