A diplomat in India's New York consulate who is supposed to advocate for women's rights is under fire, accused of underpaying her nanny.
Devyani Khobragade, 39, a deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs, was arrested last week, which sparked outraged protest from India. She is accused of submitting false documents to the U.S. State Department, reports the New York Post. In the documents, Khobragade said she was paying the woman $4,500 per month. But she was actually giving the nanny $573 a month -- which comes out to $3.31 an hour.
She hired the employee -- also an Indian national -- in November 2012. The caretaker then worked in her Manhattan home through June. The Post reports that the diplomat is accused of instructing the nanny to falsify her visa application to get into the country, claiming that she would be paid more than she actually was. The worker was then reportedly instructed by Khobragade to sign a separate contract that noted the lower amount.
Khobragade has been charged with one count of visa fraud and one of making false statements. She is now facing up to 15 years behind bars and was released on $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty in Manhattan federal court.
Following her arrest, India’s government spoke out about the treatment Khobragade has received in the U.S. This led to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress Party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi all refusing to meet with a visiting U.S. congressional delegation, reports the BBC. An official described Khobragade's treatment as "despicable and barbaric.” And according to reports from India, American diplomats and their families will have their duty-free arrangements suspended as well as their airport passes withdrawn.