‘Modern-day equivalent of slavery’: Family members put woman into forced labor for 12 years, DOJ says

Northeast

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Members of a Virginia family were convicted and found guilty of using coercive measures to hold a woman against her will and work under unbearable conditions in their home for more than 12 years. 

Zahida Aman, 80, and two of her sons, Mohammed Naumann Chaudhri, 54, and Mohammed Rehan Chaudhri, 48, were all convicted on charges pertaining to forced labor.

NewsNation local affiliate WRIC previously reported on the family’s 2019 indictment, which alleged that the family members “conspired to force” a woman to clean their home — in Midlothian, Virginia — and provide services from March 2002 until August 2014.

The Department of Justice said the victim, who is originally from Pakistan, had married one of Aman’s sons — a brother of Naumann Chaudhri and Rehan Chaudhri, who was not identified in court records — through an arranged marriage in 2002, and thereafter lived in the family’s home. Over the next 12 years, she was forced to perform domestic services, such as cleaning the home, painting the house and mowing the lawn, all while under the coercion of physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

“The defendants exploited the victim’s trust and inflicted cruel and inhumane physical and mental abuse on her, all so they could keep her working in their home as their domestic servant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Human trafficking is a disgraceful and unacceptable crime.”

In addition to forced labor, Justice Department records say the defendants locked the victim out of the home for hours on one occasion, but when she tried to run away, they would forcibly bring her back. The three also confiscated the victim’s immigration documents, lied to her about her immigration status, threatened her with deportation and restricted her ability to talk with anyone outside or inside of the home.

The three family members also limited the victim’s interactions with her four children, and on at least one occasion, required some of the children to abuse their mother. The defendants told school officials the children’s parents lived out of state, and made themselves the primary guardians.

The Convictions

  • Zahida Aman: Convicted of conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, and document servitude
  • Mohammed Naumann Chaudhri: Convicted of conspiracy to commit forced labor
  • Mohammed Rehan Chaudhri: Convicted of conspiracy to commit forced labor and forced labor

“The defendants exploited someone who should have been a loved family member to force her to work in their home for over 14 years,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber of the Eastern District of Virginia. “Forced labor, the modern-day equivalent of slavery, has no place in our country or district, and we will stop at nothing to prosecute those that commit these or similar crimes.”

Aman and Mohammed Rehan Chaudhri face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Mohammad Nauman Chaudhri faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

According to state documents, the victim’s husband was not charged.

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