Brazil: couple charged after woman detained for years in family hotel – National


The discovery of a domestic worker kept as a slave in a mansion in a wealthy district of Sao Paulo for years shocked Brazil, labor prosecutors seeking to pay R $ 1 million in damages while the case was brought before the courts.The 61-year-old woman rescued by labor authorities last month had worked for the same family since 1998 and was found living in a storage shed outside the manor. The labor authorities have requested that the name of the Brazilian be withheld.

Court documents have indicated that for months the woman was not allowed into the mansion, slept on a sofa and had to use a bucket for the toilet. She depended on a neighbor for food and other basic necessities and has not had a vacation day for 22 years.

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The couple who live in the house, Mariah Corazza Barreto Ustundag and her husband Dora Ustandag, and Sonia Regina Corazza, Mariah’s mother and owner of the property, were accused of keeping a worker in conditions similar to those of slaves.

They could not be reached for comment.

The rescue shocked the Brazilians with numerous accesses to social media where Mariah Ustundag was identified as a cadre for Avon. She was laid off by the beauty company on June 26, said Avon.

Avon said they would provide assistance to the victim.

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“The Avon Institute … decided to provide support to the victim, with psychological assistance, the payment of one year of rent in a place chosen by them and the purchase of household items,” the company said in a press release to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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In an opening statement to the court, the authorities echoed the shock that the case had on Brazilian society.

Last year, Brazilian labor inspectors found 1,054 workers in conditions similar to slavery. In the past 25 years, more than 54,000 people have been victims of forced labor.

“What is amazing is that even after more than 20 years of work, the accused have developed no empathy (towards the victim),” said labor attorney Alline Pedrosa Oishi Delena and federal public defender Joao Paulo Dorini in a press release.

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“They had the courage to put her in this abject room, without any conditions, after 22 years of domestic work.”

In Brazil, slavery is defined as forced labor, but it also covers bonded labor, degrading working conditions, long hours that pose a health risk and work that violates human dignity.

In their opening statement, Delena and Dorini argued for R $ 1 million in damages – described as an unusually high amount for a single rescued worker – citing the degrading conditions to which the woman was subjected.

The authorities also requested that R $ 300,000 in damages be paid to the Brazilian state. The family can also face criminal charges of slavery of up to eight years in prison.

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Prosecutors say the woman has received no wages since February. Before that, she received around R $ 300 a month, less than the Brazilian minimum wage of R $ 1,045.

After years of mistreatment, the employers abandoned the victim in the mansion without telling him that they were moving, said Delena and Dorini.

“(She had) no other alternative in life than to serve the accused, as a means of ensuring their survival.” In fact, a survival that was constantly threatened, ”Delena and Dorini said in their statement to the court.


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