Pakistani man, family in Italy arrested for enslaving wife

Busto Arsizio (Italy): Police in northern Italy on Tuesday arrested a Pakistani Muslim and five members of his family for allegedly enslaving his young wife, starving and keeping her prisoner and preventing her from washing.

The unnamed bearded, traditionally-clad immigrant and the five others were arrested from the family home in Busto Arsizio.

The man's wife is now staying at a secret location in a shelter for abused women.

For over four years, the man and his family had allegedly kept his wife a prisoner in the Busto Arsizio apartment, forcing her to rise at 6 a.m., do chores, cook, clean, wash dishes and iron all day for the family, even when ill or pregnant, local daily Varese News reported.

She was not allowed to do anything without her husband and his family's permission, including even going to the bathroom, eating, drinking or washing. On one occasion, she was beaten because she cooked a meal for the whole family without being asked, the daily reported.

If the family went out, the woman was shut in a room while the kitchen was kept locked to prevent her "stealing" food. On the rare occasions she was allowed out of the house, she was always escorted by family members and attended few ante-natal appointments during her two pregnancies, it said.

The woman was only rarely being allowed to see her father and two brothers, who lived locally, and was only permitted to phone her mother in Pakistan with the loudspeaker switched on and her husband and in-laws listening, according to Varese News.

In 2012, when her first child was born premature by emergency caesarian section at seven months gestation, the family did not allow the woman to return to hospital to see the baby, who died aged five months, Varese News said.

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