The couple, both in their twenties, allegedly bought the girl on a recent trip to Africa and brought her back in September, when she began working as a housemaid in the couple’s home in the Vaucluse region of France, French regional La Depeche reported on Thursday.
The girl, who had no official papers, was barred from going to school, worked without being paid and was even punished by being whipped with a belt when her cleaning was judged to be not up to scratch, reported La Depeche.
“This is a case of slavery in the true sense of the word,” Sylvie O’dy, president of the Committee against Modern Slavery told French daily Le Parisien.
The girl, named as Charlotte, finally managed to escape the clutches of her captors this week and fled to a nearby police station, where she is being cared for.
After hearing the girl’s recount of what happened, police arrested the couple. The woman, who is French, has been released but her partner, who is originally from the Ivory Coast has been kept in custody. They both face trial in March on charges of human trafficking and violence.
“This is a classic case. It is very common for people of foreign origin living in France to go back to their country, where they are connected and where it is easy to find someone poor to exploit,” said O’dy.
“The fact that they purchased her, however, is extremely rare,” she said, adding that it was more common to make deals over travel expenses or schooling than to exchange cash.
According to O’dy, 76 percent of the victims dealt with by her association are from Africa.
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