How Can People Be So Mean? What Would Make A Couple Do This?

United States
May 20, 2007 7:06pm CST
I just read this story and for the life of me, I can't understand how 2 people could be so mean. They had the money to pay these ladies, but decided to enslave them anyway. Please read the following story and tell me what you think about this couple. Is this something that happens in other cultures that they thought they could get away with here in the United States? Or are these just greedy, evil people with no regards to the welfare and well being of others? Here is the story: A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank Long Island home for more than five years, beating and abusing them and paying them almost nothing. Authorities uncovered the alleged abuse after one of the women was found by police wandering outside a doughnut shop Sunday morning wearing only pants and a towel. The homeowners, Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, entered not guilty pleas Tuesday at their arraignment in U.S. District Court in Central Islip and were ordered held pending a Thursday bail hearing. Prosecutors said the women had scalding water thrown on them and were forced to repeatedly climb up and down stairs and take as many as 30 showers in three hours — all as punishment for perceived misdeeds. In one case, prosecutors said, one woman was forced to eat 25 hot chili peppers at a time. One woman told authorities she was cut behind her ears with a pocket knife and both were forced to sleep on mats in the kitchen. They were fed so little, they claimed, they were forced to steal food and hide it from their captors. The judge also ordered the couple, who are naturalized U.S. citizens from India, to surrender their U.S. passports. A federal complaint alleged the couple, who live in East Muttontown, a tony community on Long Island's north shore, kept the two women in their home as domestic servants, barring them from leaving the house for any reason other than to take trash to the curb. The couple ran a perfume business out of their multimillion-dollar home and have factories in Asia, authorities said. They also have a residence in Manhattan and $1.8 million in the bank, prosecutors said. The two women, identified in court papers as Samirah and Nona, said they were promised payments of $200 and $100 a month, but federal prosecutors said they were never given money directly. One of the victims' daughters living in Indonesia was sent $100 a month, prosecutors said. The women legally arrived in the United States in 2002; the Sabhnanis then confiscated their passports and refused to let them leave their home, authorities said. I truly hope this couple is given the harshest sentence available and made an example of so that others will never try this in the United States again. What do you think? Lloyd
12 people like this
39 responses
@chiyosan (30205)
• Philippines
21 May 07
i have heard this one liner : people are only mean when they are threatened.... you may want to think about it too but i think yes we are all threatened by something in our lives, and there is but a natural reaction to all that is happening around us.
3 people like this
• Philippines
21 May 07
i cannot see any threat for them. these enslaved women are so helpless, there is no way that they can fight back. the couple is more than what they can hope for to become financially stable. they are sooo rich already. in fact, they no longer have to work at all in order to have a comfortable life. their accumulated wealth can easily translate to sums so huge, a good financial adviser will manage it for them or a bank can give them hefty interests to it. all of us know this to be true and real.
• United States
21 May 07
If anyone was threatened in this case it was these two women. One of the women was found by police wandering outside a doughnut shop Sunday morning wearing only pants and a towel. I don't think she was in a position to threaten anyone. Lloyd
• Canada
21 May 07
Yes , I agree they should be given the harshest sentence possible . There just is no excuse in the world for this kind of greedy behavior .
3 people like this
• United States
23 May 07
It's just amazing that we haven't evolved into better people. They should have known the difference between right and wrong. Lloyd
• United States
21 May 07
this couple we found out about i have to wonder how many others m ay be doing it and are nor found out ??we have to let these folks know what you do in other countries will not be tollerated here !
• United States
21 May 07
I don't mind a little diversity in our culture here in the United States, but you can do things that break our laws. I hope they set an example out of this couple so that others thinking about doing something like this will think twice about it. Lloyd
1 person likes this
• United States
21 May 07
Those people did some disgusting, unforgivable things, and chances are they will get by with it. I hope they don't. I hope they get an honest judge who will nail them to the wall.
2 people like this
• United States
23 May 07
I really hope you are wrong. I hope they are crucified. I'll try to keep everyone informed and if there is any funny business we can email the judge. Lloyd
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May 07
I hope I'm wrong too. Sometimes cynicism gets in my way, and sometimes it comes in handy. Either way, I sincerely do hope they prosecute them to the fullest possible extent, and maybe even write up some new legislation just for those bastiges.
@howard96h (11658)
• New York, New York
21 May 07
This gets me so mad, this couple needs to be severly punished. Shame on them for doing something like this to these two people. And I herd on the news that the couples daughter knew about all of this, I hope she gets arrested too for not stopping this, it make her involved now too!
2 people like this
• United States
21 May 07
Hello Howard. This happened not to far from you. I didn't hear a thing about it on the news down here in New Jersey. Was it all over the news up there? If the daughter knew about this, then she is a co-conspirator along with this couple and should be punished also. Lloyd
@howard96h (11658)
• New York, New York
21 May 07
Yes, I saw it on the news and the camera showed their daughter (a grown woman) and said that she knew about this. Yes your right, she is involved (just by knowing) and also deserves to be punished too.
@4cuteboys (4102)
• United States
21 May 07
I think that's absolutly hideous, and if they get off easy I am going to be livid. Those poor women :( I feel terrible and glad that they got out of the situation although I wish that it was sooner so they wouldn't have had to endure so much. I hope the fact that they have money isn't going to get them off and out of trouble. I can't believe they had the nerve to abuse them like that. And not pay them. Ugh. I am like you, I hope they get whatever is the worst punishment possible for what they are being charged with.
2 people like this
• United States
21 May 07
I can't see them getting off easy with the amount of laws they have broken. Not even the slickest of lawyers can justify this behaviour. I hope the judge socks it to them real good. Lloyd
@4cuteboys (4102)
• United States
21 May 07
Me too Lloyd, that is so outrageous. It makes me sad to think about it, those poor women *sigh*
• Philippines
21 May 07
and i think that the rich need not do something like this at all. they have all the money to give their servants what's due them and all the food they can eat. they have been so well blessed that they are supposed to share these foremost with the people who are around them and serving them well. we all know, that the wealth they have accumulated will see them through life comfortably already. there must be something twisted in their hearts and minds to have been doing this. evil minds and evil heaarts are never cured by good blessings. they need psychologists and psychiatrists to help them out with their oddities. this couple is so cruel they do not deserve to live with us in this 'civilized' world.
• United States
21 May 07
I totally agree with you. It seems as if all their good fortune didn't teach them a ounce of humility. Calling them "cruel" is a excellent way to describe them. Lloyd
• Netherlands
29 May 07
They didn't have an ounce of compassion that is for sure. How perverse and sadistic it is. You keept two women there in hopes of making some money and you torture them.... Just sick!
@Idlewild (6094)
• United States
27 May 07
From the couple's names it sounds like they're from another country, maybe in their home country that kind of treatment is sometimes accepted (though I can't imagine it's legal there). I agree the law should lower the boom on these idiots. Keeping people as slaves in 21st-century America is pathetic.
2 people like this
• United States
27 May 07
I agree. They should be made an example out of. There's no place in America for that kind of behavior. We closed that ugly chapter in our history and don't need to revisit it. Thanks. Lloyd
1 person likes this
@Sherry12 (2475)
• United States
21 May 07
That is absolutely terrible. I wonder if there was anyway they could have escaped? I think people are really sick to treat another person this way. They certainly deserve the harshest sentence available.
2 people like this
• United States
23 May 07
I'm sure they were so traumitized that they were afraid to escape. But it shouldn't have never come to that. This is America. Home of the Free. Lloyd
• United States
21 May 07
I think that it is just horrible that people would do that, how can they be so arragant? Its just sad when these things happen, and bad at the same time. I really think that they should be punished to the fullest extent, because america let them in to have a better life. They came to america to enjoy our freedoms and they took them for advantage so they should be punished and forbidden to come back. i can't believe that people would do this, its just horrible. I hope that things turn out for the victims and they're families, hopefully they don't end up to tramatized.
2 people like this
• United States
23 May 07
You are right. It's almost like they took their opportunity to succeed in the United States for granted. We don't do things like that. Period. They should be punished hard. Lloyd
@Taskr36 (13924)
• United States
21 May 07
It's disgusting and horrible. The worst part is that some people do things like this to their own children every day. The fact that millionaires would do this seems especially horrible. If you had all that money wouldn't you want to spend at least a fraction of it to make the world a better place rather than make people's lives miserable?
2 people like this
• United States
21 May 07
I've heard of cases similiar to this before and the people were made to pay all back wages, taxes, fines, penalties, etc. This is going to wind up costing this couple much more than if they would have just paid these two women. I hope they are punished for making these people's lives miserable. Lloyd
@jerryn (818)
• United States
21 May 07
Hi Lloyd. I agree these people deserve to get the greatest punishment the law will allow. No man has the right to enslave another. God don't like ugly and these folks will reap what they sow.
2 people like this
• United States
21 May 07
Hi Jerryn. Sadly slavery is still practiced in some parts of the world and that is morally unacceptable. But to bring to type of thing to the United States is totally wrong and unacceptable. I just don't know how these people can live with themselves. Hopefully they will have a lot of time to think about what they've done behind bars. Lloyd
• United States
21 May 07
i've noticed with some people,if they think they can get away with something,they try it. i hope they get the book thrown at them,and their status revoked.
• United States
21 May 07
They are naturalized citizens, so I don't think their statur can be revoked. But, like you, I hope they get the book thrown at them. Lloyd
@cwilson26 (2736)
• United States
21 May 07
What I think is that these 2 should get the same punishment that they gave to those poor women. They should be made to eat not 25 hot chili peppers but 50 of them at one time and they should be made to take 60 showers in 3 hours. They should be beaten and everything else they did to them. These people are sick and evil and really should get the same done to them. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth right?
2 people like this
• United States
21 May 07
I just don't understand their thinking. They have enough money to pay the ladies, but they chose to enslave them. Can you imagine having to take 30 showers in 3 hours or eating 25 hot chilli peppers? That is a form of torture. Lloyd
@kelly60 (4548)
• United States
22 May 07
This is horrible. I do not understand how people could possibly treat other human beings this way. I hope that the judge gives these two women a huge cash settlement for all of the pain and suffering that they have gone through in addition to all of the back wages, and everything else that they are entitled for all of the time that they have been there. This couple should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They should be locked up for a good long time.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May 07
I heard of cases similar to this in the past, but none as cruel as this. They will be payed for the work they have done. And I also hope they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the lay. Lloyd
@kelly60 (4548)
• United States
25 May 07
I have never heard of anything that comes close to this.
@Marie2473 (8519)
• Sweden
21 May 07
these people are not well people and they should definately have their heads examined. A normal person would not treat another human like this and it just proves that money does not do everything for you. I hope that they get sentenced to jail - and get nothing but chili to eat for a few weeks!
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May 07
You are so right. Money does not equate to common sense. I hope they get jail time also. They are so lucky they live in the United States where we don't adhere to a eye for a eye. Lloyd
@LittleMel (14055)
• Canada
23 May 07
Lloyd, yes they are very lucky If it happened somewhere else, you can't imagine the horror
@KrauseHome (35514)
• United States
27 May 07
Wow!! This is absurd to say the least. I feel that they should be charged with the highest punishment available, and be offered to pay a lot of money to the Victims and their families for doing this to them. In all reality, it would be nice if these people had to serve jail time, and what would be even better if they could sit there and have done to them what they did to others, even if this is not the way things should be done, just so they can see how Cruel their punishment really was.
• United States
27 May 07
Wouldn't it be nice to turn the table on the two creeps. Let them be force to eat 25 hot chilli peppers and see how they like it. I've heard of cases similiar to this one and the two women will receive back pay plus interest. If they get a good lawyer, they even hit the jackpot. These people must be jailed to set an example for others who might be thinking of doing something like this. Lloyd
1 person likes this
@bonbon664 (3470)
• Canada
26 May 07
I heard about this story, and it is horrible. I think the worst part is that it's more prevalent than we want to believe. I think there are people who come to our country (in my case Canada) for a better life, and end up working for peanuts becauset they are not legal and are scared. In these case though, it's unreal. Greed does horrible things to people.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 May 07
I also think that this type of thing is more prevalant than most people think. I don't even believe that this is the only case of slavery in New York. New York has some terrible boiler rooms in the garment district in Manhattan. Greed does do horrible things to people. They shouldn't be bringing that kind of behavior to the United States. Lloyd
@tsgirl01 (900)
• United States
23 May 07
Hi Lloyd, How are you? Just when I THOUGHT I'd heard it all...This is sickening. I hope that they throw the book so far at them that it takes them straight to hell. "Pass Jail, go directly to Hell" Sorry, but some things really piss me off. I can never wrap my mind around how people think that they can live off of the backs of others. Where is the common decency? What happened to being compassionate? Gee, lets just wonder where the humanity is. First of all, they had the nerve, with all of their money, to hire persons and pay them illegal wages which they did not even pay. They physically abused them and took away their freedom. It just isn't right and the sad part is...they will probably get off with a slap on the wrists...but I sure as heck hope not. I hope they are the ones who are used as examples of what you CANNOT do to others. Thanks for sharing this discussion. Very sad but it needed to be told so that others are aware...Take care...
• United States
24 May 07
It's truly amazing what goes on in this world. It seems like the more we advance as a people, the more steps some people go back. This is something that should never occur in a society such as ours. I too hope that they are made an example out of. They broke so many laws and they should receive the maximum penalty. Lloyd
@LittleMel (14055)
• Canada
23 May 07
It's heart breaking. Cruel treatments to maids are something I heard everyday in my homeland, but none of these people are millionaires and when they were caught they were harshly punished. Over here you have the law and then lawyers, so rich people can afford to escape. I don't know if lawyers or your law will help these people but I hope they will do something to those Indians. I'm sure if you take a look at their passports and factories, there must be something there you can find to eliminate their wealth.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 May 07
Hello my friend. I hope that they will be punished with the full extent of our American laws. I really don't care where they came from. They committed a very bad crime and need to be punished. Their wealth shouldn't play any part in their sentence. Lloyd