Slavery, Immigration, And The Press
May 17, 2007, 05:10 PM
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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 "immigrant" to describe either the alleged perpetrators or even the victims.

A search on "immigration" on the same story includes several hits, because now they've been raided by Immigration And Customs Enforcement.

References to the ethnicity of the criminals is seen in the foreign press, for example in Malaysia, they write South Asian couple keeping women as slaves house raided Malaysia Sun Thursday 17th May, 2007 (IANS), whereas the Times of India has Indian couple held in NY for keeping 'slaves' and other headlines from the Indian subcontinent include

By way of contrast, and as tribute to the AP Stylebook, which, if you recall, says that race is not "pertinent" to stories of crime, here are some of the headlines from the "North American Subcontinent." [Excuse the fact that they don't have links, I'm slightly pressed for time.]

. 'Case of modern-day slavery' in New York Houston Chronicle, TX - 10 hours ago By FRANK ELTMAN. AP. MINEOLA, NY—A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their Long Island ...

NY Couple Faces Forced Labor Charges Forbes, NY - May 16, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN 05.16.07, 9:20 AM ET. A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank ...

NY couple faces forced labor charges Houston Chronicle, TX - May 16, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN AP Writer. © 2007 AP. MINEOLA, NY—A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in ...

Housekeepers held as slaves Newsday, NY - May 16, 2007 BY ROBERT E. KESSLER. A multimillionaire Muttontown couple, who run an international business distributing perfume, were arrested yesterday by federal ...

Feds: Couple in tony Long Island community abused their servants Newsday, NY - May 15, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN. AP Writer. MINEOLA, NY — Police found one of the women wandering outside a doughnut shop, wearing only pants and a towel. ...

Two Face Forced Labor Charges in NY Forbes, NY - May 15, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN 05.15.07, 3:31 PM ET. Two Indonesian women, hired as domestic help, were virtual prisoners in a Long Island household, whose wealthy owners ...

LI couple face charges for keeping, torturing slaves Newsday, NY - May 15, 2007 BY ROBERT E. KESSLER. A multimillionaire Muttontown couple has been arrested by federal agents on charges of keeping two Indonesian women as slaves in their ...

Millionaire couple facing slavery charges abc13.com, TX - 17 hours ago (5/16/07 - MINEOLA, NY) - A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank Long Island ...

Rich Couple Kept 2 Women As Slaves, Officials Say KUTV, UT - 22 hours ago (CBS) MINEOLA, NY - Two Indonesian women were subjected to beatings and other abuse and forced by a couple to work in their home in a swank Long Island ...

Couple Accused of Keeping Slaves 6abc.com, PA - May 16, 2007 MINEOLA, NY (AP) - May 16, 2007 - - A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank Long ... South Asian couple arrested for keeping slaves

2 face forced labor charges in NY TheNewsTribune.com (subscription), WA - May 16, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN. A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank Long Island home for ...

Feds: LI couple forced women to work for free Staten Island Advance, NY - May 15, 2007 By FRANK ELTMAN. AP. MINEOLA, NY (AP)—Two Indonesian women were subjected to beatings and other abuse and forced by a couple to work in their home in a ...

Couple Charged With Keeping "Slaves" in LI Home Gothamist, NY - May 16, 2007 When a Dunkin Donuts' manager in Syosset called 911 about a distressed woman, the police were led to a mansion in Muttontown, Long Island. ...

SLAVES OF THE GOLD COAST New York Post, NY - May 15, 2007 May 15, 2007 — A wealthy couple in East Muttontown — a tony north shore community in Nassau County — hired two Indonesian women as domestic help, ...

Feds: Human Traffickers Caught On LI WNBC, NY - May 15, 2007 Two Indonesian women were subjected to beatings and other abuse and forced by a couple to work in their home in a swank Long Island neighborhood without pay ...

Looking at those headlines, wouldn't you think that the couple were Americans, and that Americans had somehow resumed the un-American custom of slavery? The couple are a Long Island couple, a New York couple, a millionaire couple. They live in a "swank Long Island neighborhood," a "tony north shore community," and are exactly like the villains on TV, until you get into the story and find that they're named Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani, at which point you say "Aha!," realizing that they're from India, where slavery in many forms is still traditional, and that while America's rich do have an appetite for cheap labor, they haven't gone that far.

See Brenda Walker on an almost exactly similar case here. A slightly different case involving a Filipino couple is here, a different kind of slavery involving Albanian Gypsies can be seen here, and Carl Horowitz's overview of this phenomenon is here.