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Rescued a maid after 72 years of slavery in Brazil without pay or vacation

Latest NewsRescued a maid after 72 years of slavery in Brazil without pay or vacation

Protesters march in Sao Paulo to commemorate the 134th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, May 13 this year.Andre Penner (AP)

Her name is unknown because it was not made public by the authorities, but it is known that she is 86 years old, that she is black and that she was exploited by a family named Mattos Maya. She is the victim of the longest-running slavery case to be solved in Brazil. Starting in her teens and for 72 years, she worked as a maid for three generations of her family without pay or vacation. His story was published this Friday, exactly on the day that marks 134 years since Princess Elizabeth signed the abolition of slavery.

When the elderly woman was rescued from her home in Rio de Janeiro two months ago, she was sleeping on a sofa by the door of the room of the mistress, also octogenarian, just like her, whom she took care of. His advanced age did not allow him to do cleaning or ironing. The IRS found her there after receiving an anonymous complaint. Since then, the victim has been in a nursing home under the tutelage of social services, trying to adjust to the freedom to make her own decisions. Not an easy task after a lifetime of isolation from the world behind the four walls of the house.

Authorities released this image of a sofa that an 86-year-old woman slept on outside her employer’s room.Brazilian labor tax audit

The victim was born on a farm owned by the Mattos Maya family, where her parents worked, and as a teenager she was sent to serve in the employers’ house. Thus began the exploitation to which he was subjected for the next seven decades by three generations. At that time, at the age of about fifty, Getúlio Vargas ruled Brazil for the second time, and in England twenty-year-old Elizabeth II was crowned.

Years later, she and her family moved to the capital, Rio. Mattos Maya, with whom she lived almost all her life, claimed that there was no crime there, that she was one of the family. This argument is often used by exploiters. Inspector Alexander Lira, who is in charge of the case, explained in statements to the G1 portal of the Globo group why he believes that this is not at all the case. “This lady, whom employers call a relative, although she is not one, behaves absolutely submissively. The employer speaks for her. Whatever answer we ask her, the employer answers. She does not keep her papers. The employer has them.

Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, after the rest of the Americas. The inhuman regime operated for 350 years. And even to its ports, five million people were transported on slave ships, more than to any other country on the continent. Therefore, its consequences are very evident in the inequality that is tearing apart Brazilian society up to the present. Black citizens live less, poorer.

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Last year, authorities rescued nearly 2,000 Brazilians who were being used as slaves, 27 of them working as domestic workers. Since the crime was identified and checks started, 58,000 Brazilians exploited under very serious circumstances have been released. The case of Madalena Giordano was of particular importance, perhaps because the family that exploited her for 40 years married her to an older relative who served in the army in order to continue to receive a pension. There were more complaints. A few months later, the accused and the victim reached an agreement under which the former maid received compensation in the form of a family apartment.

These long-standing cases of modern-day maid-turned-slaves are especially dramatic because the victims lose all connection with their families. Locked in their homes, they have no friends, only a family with whom they live and who, in turn, exploits them. “She has no idea that she was enslaved,” explained the director of the nursing center, where she is, while the authorities are looking for her relatives. A slave labor specialist interviewed by Reporter Brasil explains that although victims usually realize that they are no longer family members, since they have no other choice, they remain loyal, a kind of debt of gratitude towards people. to whom they belong. they serve, for those who cook, do laundry and those who often pick up.

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