An HIV expert has been jailed for keeping a 21-year-old woman as a slave.
Scientist Rebecca Balira, 45, was convicted at Southwark crown court, south London, for keeping Methodia Mathias in servitude. She was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and ordered to pay Mathias £3,000 in compensation.
Mathias, 21, claimed Balira brought her from her native Tanzania. The court heard that Mathias had stayed with Balira's relatives in Dar es Salaam and they paid for her UK visa applications, the third of which was successful, as well as a return flight to Britain. But she claimed that she was kept as a slave in a flat in Thamesmead, south-east London after coming to the UK.
She said on Balira got so angry one occasion that she cut her bra with a pair of scissors and injured her in the process.
Balira maintained that she only pulled on Mathias's bra, causing it to snap, during a row over money missing from a coin box in September last year.
The court heard that Mathias's friend, Beatrice Kosgei, sought help from the charity Kalayaan, which represents migrant domestic workers.
Kate Roberts, from Kalayaan, said: "We are obviously pleased in cases where there is justice for domestic workers ... But cases such as these do highlight our concerns that instances of such abuse will increase if the protections that are currently maintained within the migration domestic worker visa are removed."
Prosecutor Caroline Haughey said Balira had imposed "conditions that ... amounted to slavery and servitude". Balira was cleared of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation and of common assault. THE GUARDIAN