• The victim was given away at the age of eight to the professor’s family

  • She was forced into a marriage with an elderly man

  • The professor has been suspended by Unipam

Brazilian officials on Monday said a woman was rescued after she was found to be enslaved as a maid, beginning at age 8, for almost 40 years by a professor and his family in Patos de Minas.

The woman, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, was found holed up in small room in an apartment in Minas Gerais. According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, the woman has not been paid or given time off for most of her life.

The 46-year-old victim was given away by her poor parents four decades ago to the family of Dalton Cesar Milagres Rigueira, a university professor at Unipam, and was raised by his mother, said the inspectors.

“They gave her food when she was hungry, but all other rights were taken from her,” Humberto Camasmie, the inspector in charge of the rescue told the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

According to officials, domestic slavery in Brazil is difficult to recognize and battle as most of the victims rarely see themselves as modern day slaves. Around 3,513 workers between 2017 and 2019 were found in slavery-like circumstances, but just 21 of them were held in domestic servitude.

“I helped clean up the house, cook, wash the bathroom, wash the house. I didn’t play, I didn’t even have a doll,” the victim told a Brazilian TV program Fantastico.

The professor and his family has been found guilty even before the case has been produced before the court, said the lawyer representing the professor. Rigueira has been suspended by the university and that “all legal measures are being taken,” said a spokesperson for Unipam in a statement.

“The premature and irresponsible disclosure by inspectors and agents of the state, before a lawsuit recognizes... their guilt, violates rights and sensitive data from the family, and compromises their safety, the lawyer said in a statement cited by the DailyMail.

During the victim’s captivity, she was forced to marry an elderly man, who was a relative to the family so that they could continue to receive his pension even after his death but she did not have to stay with him, authorities said.

The neighbors alerted the officials when the victim gave note asking them to buy her some food and hygiene products since she had no money with her.

After her rescue on Nov. 27, the woman was taken to a shelter where she was treated by psychologists and looked after by social workers. They have been trying to reunite the victim with her biological family, officials said.

Lola was trapped in slavery all her life. In this photo: The chained hand of a slave in the Emancipation statue, depicting a slave breaking the chains of captivity as Abraham Lincoln reads the Emancipation Proclamation, is seen in Washington, D.C. Feb. 9, 2009. Getty Images/KAREN BLEIER