• The couple has been charged with intentionally possessing a slave
  • The woman had come to Australia to work for the couple in 2007
  • Her family's requests to return her were met with hostility by the couple 

An Indian woman was allegedly kept as a slave by a couple in Australia in their house for eight years before she was discovered by authorities in an emaciated condition, lying in a pool of her own urine.

The Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday heard that the woman, who took care of the Melbourne couple's three children, weighed just 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and had no teeth, ABC News reported.

The couple, referred to by the initials KK and KK, has been charged with intentionally possessing a slave and intentionally exercising the right of ownership over a slave between 2007 and 2015. However, the couple denied the charges.

Prosecutor Richard Maidment told the court the husband and wife "interfered" with the woman's freedoms of choice, movement, and communication.

"Each of them exercised such a degree of control over fundamental rights and freedoms … as to constitute a state of slavery," Maidment said, ABC News reported.

Her situation came to light in July 2015 after the wife called the emergency services on seeing the woman collapsed on the bathroom floor. "She had a temperature of 28.5 degrees Celsius and was said to be in an emaciated condition," Maidment said.

On Thursday, the second day of the trial, the court was told how the woman had come to Australia to work for the couple in 2007. The victim had come to Australia twice before to work for the couple, but she was not allowed to leave on her third visit in 2007.

The court was told the victim met the couple in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and made an “arrangement” via her son-in-law. "The origins of the whole arrangement were that [the victim] would be paid," Maidment said, reported.

"She worked very hard. During the whole of the eight years … she'll say to you that all she received by the way of payment in Australia were the odd $5 or $10 note here and there that might have been given to her on her birthday," he said.

Over time, the court heard that the woman, who is in her 50s, had little contact with her family back home, and their requests to return her were met with hostility.

More details about how the woman was treated emerged during the trial. When the family went on a holiday, the victim was reportedly locked up in the house. The woman's teeth were allegedly pulled out after they started to wobble, the wife told the police, reported. She added the victim did not have dentures. The court was then told the victim ate mash and “mainly drank tea.”

The trial is ongoing.

Representational image Photo by Pixabay (CC0)