London HIV scientist jailed for keeping woman as slave

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A scientist found guilty of keeping a woman as a slave at her London home has been jailed for six months.

HIV expert Rebecca Balira, 45, was convicted of keeping Methodia Mathias, 21, in servitude and assaulting her.

Southwark Crown Court heard during a row Balira got so angry that she cut the younger woman's bra with a pair of scissors, injuring her.

Balira, of Waterside Close, Thamesmead, south-east London, was also made to pay her victim £3,000 compensation.

She was cleared of a charge of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation and one other count of common assault.

Visa applications

During the trial Ms Mathias said Balira brought her from her native Tanzania then kept her in servitude.

The court heard Ms Mathias stayed with Balira's relatives in Tanzania and they paid for her UK visa applications, the third of which was successful, and a return flight to Britain.

But she claimed when she arrived she was made to work as a slave in the flat.

She had been in the UK for seven months when she made the allegations against Balira.

It was then that a friend of Ms Mathias got her in touch with Kalayaan, a charity which represents migrant domestic workers, to get help, the court heard.

Kate Roberts, from the charity, said: "We are obviously pleased in cases where there is justice for domestic workers.

"But cases such as these do highlight our concerns that instances of such abuse will increase if the protections that are currently maintained within the migration domestic worker visa are removed."

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