London A deaf and dumb girl trafficked into the UK to act as a ‘slave' to an elderly couple for almost a decade on Monday used sign language to tell of her life of horror.
Locked in a cellar each night from the age of 10, she was allegedly raped and forced to carry out household chores, including cooking, cleaning, sewing, and washing.
“I was weak because I was working so hard. I had to clean all the time and that was it — that was my life. I'd cook and clean for hours”Tweet this
If she was too slow, Ilyas Ashar, 83, and his wife Tallat, 66, would beat her around the head or drag her by her hair, a court heard. The victim told a jury how she would sit crying for hours locked in a cellar.
Judge Peter Lakin said the victim had been questioned by police 14 times. All the interviews were recorded and will be viewed by the jury.
In the first interview the girl — who is profoundly deaf and cannot speak — used sign language to tell of her life as a ‘slave'. She said she was held prisoner in a basement at the house in Eccles, Greater Manchester, for nine years and forced to sleep on a concrete floor without a bed or toilet.
The victim said she was brought to the UK from Pakistan and sent to live with the Ashars to carry out chores. She told the court how she would be woken up by Mrs Ashar at 7am every day and hardly had time to eat or drink.
She said: "I just cleaned. I was sad and weak because I was working so hard. They used to hit me from being very, very little, all the time.
"I was weak because I was working so hard. I had to clean all the time and that was it — that was my life. I'd cook and clean for hours."
Hit for no reason
She claimed Mrs Ashar would sometimes hit her for no reason with a rolling pin or slap her as she carried out her work.
The woman — now believed to be around 20 — said: "She used to hit me in the face and cut it with her ring on her left finger. She would be hitting and slapping me, and throwing things around destroying them."
The girl claimed she would then be forced back into the cellar and the door locked behind her.
"I would be down in the cellar, sitting alone and very upset," she said. "I could not get out."
Shown a photo of Mrs Ashar, to identify her alleged abuser, the victim said: "That's the woman who used to hit me and beat me all the time as I was growing up." Shown a photo of Mr Ashar, who allegedly repeatedly raped her, the victim said: "The old man, he's bad. He's the one who has sex with me."
The pair, who run a market stall and sell cars, were arrested after police went to their house in Eccles in June 2009 to find the girl asleep in the cellar.
Earlier, the court heard how the girl first arrived in the UK on June 24, 2000 with a passport stating she was 19.
However, subsequent medical tests showed the girl was more likely to have been around ten.