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Slavery, Immigration, And The Press--Update
Over a year ago, I did a post about an Indo-American couple, immigrants to the United States, who were keeping their two Indonesian maids in horrible conditions of slavery and torturing them. One of the more memorable details, via Fox News:
Samirah, an immigrant from Indonesia, said she was forced to walk naked from the servants' room to the kitchen and to eat 100 chili peppers, followed by six spoons of chili powder mixed with salt water. She said she vomited after eating the peppers and was told to eat the vomit.
I wrote at the time
The story of Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51 and Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 45, who are accused of having kept two Indonesian women as slaves, torturing them on regular basis, is being covered in the mainstream media without the use of the word â€śimmigrantâ€ś to describe either the alleged perpetrators or even the victims. [Slavery, Immigration, And The Press]
Well, recently there was a conviction, and let me show you some headlines from the American press:
- Three years for slave-case husband
Newsday, NY - Jun 28, 2008
BY ROBERT E. KESSLER | firstname.lastname@example.org A Muttontown millionaire, convicted with his wife of enslaving two Indonesian domestic workers...
"Muttontown millionaire" is one way of describing him.
Man in Slave Case Sentenced to 3 Years
New York Times, United States - Jun 27, 2008
By AP CENTRAL ISLIP, NY (AP) â€” A Long Island man convicted of helping his wife keep two Indonesian housekeepers as virtual slaves was sentenced on Friday to
"Long Island man" is another way of describing him. Well, at least the Indonesian victims are allowed a country of origin. Of course, since they lived in the same house, we could just as easily say "An Indian millionaire was convicted of enslaving two Long Island women," couldn't we? Here are several more examples of blaming this crime on Americans, New Yorkers, or millionaires.
- Woman gets 11 years in US jail for enslaving Indonesian maids
AFP - Jun 27, 2008
NEW YORK (AFP) â€” A millionaire has been sentenced to 11 years in prison in the United States for enslaving and torturing her two Indonesian housekeepers. .
- New York Woman Sentenced to 132 Months in Prison for Her ...
- US 'slavery' woman given 11 years
- Wealthy New Yorker jailed for keeping slaves
- US woman jailed for slavery
- NY Husband, Wife Get Jail For Holding Maids As Slaves
- New York Wife Gets 11 Years In 'Slavery' Case
Now compare this with the headlines in the Indian Press:
- Indian-American jailed for 3 years for torturing housekeepers
Press Trust of India,Â IndiaÂ - Jun 27, 2008
New York, Jun 28 (PTI) A multi-millionaire Indian American businessman, found guilty along with his wife of virtually enslaving two Indonesian housemaids...
11 Years in Prison for Wife of American Indian Millionaire for Ill-treating Indonesian Maids
MedIndia,Â IndiaÂ - Jun 28, 2008
In December last Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani (51), and his Indonesian wife Varsha (40) were held guilty of subjecting two Indonesian housemaids to repeated...
Aha! again. And finally, this headline from the Times Of India:
By Chidanand Rajghatta
28 Jun 2008
In this article Chidanand Rajghatta points to the slavery story and another story that I personally had missed, for which the Times of India headline isÂ Indian-American gets life term for murder of son's black wife [June 29, 2008] as examples of two stories that have damaged the reputation of Indians abroad.
He worries about it more that he needs to, as he'sÂ reckoned without the ability of American headline writers to obscure issues of race.
You never see a headline like Indian-American gets life term for murder of son's black wife in an American paper, and as for the behavior of the Sabhnanis, that has affected the reputation of "Long Island" men,Â "Wealthy New Yorkers" "Muttontown millionaires" and Americans in general. (See the headline about "US Woman" above.)
But only a careful reading will connect this offence with immigration from the Indian subcontinent, where such behavior is traditional.
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