Kandasamy and Komothini Kanan: Inside the House of the Delicate Couple
The area’s leading Victorian policeman has warned that the condition of a emaciated woman who was kept as a slave and forced to live in conditions of terror for eight years in the Melbourne suburbs is not a “one-time” issue.
Komothini Kanan and her husband Kandasamy held the Indian grandmother, who was found in a puddle of urine weighing just 40kg, captive and subjected to “shocking abuse” inside their sheltered home on Mount Waverley.
In an exclusive interview after they were imprisoned for their crimes, Detective Jane Crossing, head of the Australian Federal Police’s Victorian Human Exploitation Team, called the case the “worst” case of modern slavery she’s faced.
But unfortunately, this is not as rare as people think.
“Maybe the neighbors noticed the things and maybe they didn’t think to report it,” she said.
“(But) she can hide in plain sight in the outskirts of Australia.
“It’s not a one time.”
“We want Australians to know that these kinds of crimes that you would imagine taking place in different parts of the world, unfortunately, do happen here.”
AFP received more than 200 reports on modern slavery in the last fiscal year.
Authorities discovered the enslaved grandmother’s condition after she was found lying in a puddle of urine on the bathroom floor in 2015.
Ms. Kanaan only called an ambulance after taking her children to a school prom and lied to the authorities about the identity of her true victim.
Inspector Crosling revealed that the victim had gangrene when she was found.
“She was lying on the floor for a long time before she was finally taken to the hospital and admitted under an assumed name,” she said.
“She had diabetes without treatment, she had gangrene in her feet…she had no teeth,” she said.
“There was evidence of beatings, of things thrown at her, of boiling water.”
The shocking photos released by Agence France-Presse to NCA NewsWire show the harsh and harsh conditions in which the woman, now 67, lives, including a confined bedroom with some lunch boxes next to her bed.
Bags covered the top of the bed and an ironing board was placed near her sleeping area. The backyard was full of junk including bins as the laundry was hanging on a rope.
The victim could not speak or understand English, was unable to read or write in her mother tongue, and had no contact with her family.
This is how her captors managed to get away with it for so long, Detective Director Crossing said.
“She wasn’t in enough contact with any part of the community for others to be able to stand up for her, which is really devastating,” she said.
The Indian grandmother cooked, cleaned and looked after the couple’s three children and was only $3.39 a day.
Detective Director Crossing said that a person did not need to be chained up to be a victim of slavery or exploitation.
For example, some victims may not be able to leave the house unaccompanied, or they are only allowed out for a specific purpose and have been told not to talk to anyone.
The woman’s passport was taken from her and she was in the country illegally after her visa expired.
“It could potentially be a threat to her,” she said.
A jury found the Kinan family guilty of keeping the woman running in April of this year.
Ms. Kanaan was imprisoned for eight years, while Mr. Kanaan was imprisoned for six years.