|Wife Sues In-Laws, Says Arranged Marriage Turned
by Admin ECLink
January 24, 2012
Wife Sues In-Laws, Says Arranged Marriage Turned to Slavery
Diptiben Mistry was a 20-year-old college student in India when she married Himansu Udwadia, then 24, who was working as an accountant in the United States.
Mistry says it was an arranged marriage, common even in Indian-American families, and that she was promised a good life and the opportunity to finish her education in hotel management in India.
But after a brief honeymoon, all those dreams vanished, according to a lawsuit Mistry filed on Jan. 10 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against her in-laws, Chandrakant and Nilam Udwadia.
Mistry's father-in-law allegedly told her she needed to return immediately to the United States with the family, and the couple eventually settled in the same house as her husband's parents in Elk City, Okla., in 2007.
There, she alleged that the Udwadias controlled her life -- rationing food, depriving her of medical care and forcing her into unpaid labor as a household servant.
In the federal lawsuit Mistry claimed that her in-laws kept her a "virtual prisoner" in their home and that the Udwadias took away all her personal belongings, including her passport, so that she could not leave.
Mistry, now 24, told ABCNews.com in an email that she knew "early on" that her treatment by the Udwadias was "not right."
She alleged that her in-laws took away her cell phone and monitored all calls to her family back home in India.
"They also took all of my personal belongings once we got to the U.S., and kept them from me," she wrote. "But for a long time, I told myself that I had to accept the harsh treatment because I was scared. ..."
Mistry said she became malnourished, losing 26 pounds during the alleged ordeal. The Udwadias even dictated how often she could use the toilet, monitored her every move with a webcam and on several occasions abused her physically, according to the complaint.
"By engaging in modern-day slavery, the defendants committed abhorrent acts condemned in all civilized countries," reads the lawsuit.
Mistry has asked the court for more than $75,000 to compensate her for "forced labor" and for "intense physical and psychological pain and suffering," and most of all, depriving her of her "basic human dignity" during the year she lived in Oklahoma and later in Georgia.
U.S. Justice Department statistics reveal human trafficking is growing nearly as fast as drug trafficking, with 2,525 cases under investigation, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. More than half the victims are women and children.
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