Officials say domestic slavery is hard to define and address in Brazil because victims rarely see themselves as modern slaves. Of the 3,513 workers found in slave-like conditions between 2017 and 2019, only 21 were detained for domestic service.
A lawyer representing the Reguera family said that a high-profile news program presented them as comets Gorgeous, Which revealed the rescue operation on Sunday, before their case was heard in court.
“The early and irresponsible disclosure by state inspectors and agents before the lawsuit recognizes … their guilt and violates the rights and sensitive data of the family and threatens their safety,” the lawyer said in a statement.
The program aired an interview with the woman, photos of the small windowless room where she lived, as well as Regira’s statement to the police, and interviews with experts and human rights activists.
The woman, Madalena Gordiano, told the program that she had come to the eight-year-old family to order bread. The owner of the house decided to receive her and agreed to adopt her. Her mother admitted that she had eight other children to take care of. But the adoption was not formalized.
The show says her mother “gave her” to Reguera after repeated quarrels with his father.
A Unipam spokesman said Regera had been suspended from work and that “all legal measures are being taken.”
Labor prosecutors said they were trying to cut a deal with the Regera family to pay the victim. If criminal prosecutors bring charges of forced labor and are found guilty in court, Reguera faces up to eight years in prison.
While labor inspectors can visit workplaces whenever they want to check slavery in Brazil, they must obtain permission from a judge to enter the home and said evidence of abuse from victims is a prerequisite.
Reguera’s neighbors alerted authorities after receiving notes from the 46-year-old asking them to buy food and hygiene products because she had no money, according to inspectors.
Authorities said that while in captivity, the woman was forced to marry an elderly relative of the family so that they could continue receiving his pension after his death.
After being rescued at the end of November, the woman is taken to a shelter where she is receiving help from psychologists and social workers. Officials said they were trying to reunite the woman with her biological family.
According to Camasme, women now maintain a monthly pension of around 8,000 reais (US $ 2,064) – more than seven times the minimum wage in Brazil.
“She did not know what the minimum wage was,” he said. “Now she is learning how to use a credit card. She knows he’s going to charge a lot every month [from the pension]”.
Domestic slavery made headlines in Brazil in June when authorities rescued a 61-year-old maid who believed she was enslaved by a woman who worked for an Avon beauty company.
Avon fired the CEO and said he would support the victim. The former Avon employee, who, along with her husband and mother was accused of enslaving a worker, denied the charges.
Thomson Reuters Foundation, Staff Correspondents