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The Lakireddy Bali Reddy Case

A  Family's  Criminal  Conspiracy  Involving  Sexual  Slavery  &  Indentured  Servitude  In  Berkeley

by Diana Russell & Marcia Poole 2001

Chanti Prattipati, Lalitha & Laxmi

Indian women demonstrating in front of the courthouse

Lalitha and Chanti's parents were very poor. Their father, Jarmani, only earned $1 a day (in rupees) carrying cement and water for construction crews. The family lived in a segregated part of the village in a mud-walled hut with no electricity or running water (Chabria, 2001). Jarmani was unable to afford the dowry required to allow his daughters to marry. So when Reddy, considered a god by the people of Velvadam, singled out destitute young girls such as the Prattipati sisters to receive his aid, no one questioned his intentions (Chabria, 2001). Even many of the victims "view Reddy as a savior rather than a trafficker in human lives."

From a very young age Lalitha and Chanti worked as cleaners in Reddy's mansion. It was in this setting that he started sexually abusing them. According to an Associated Press article, Lathitha "told authorities she had been given to Reddy by her parents when she was 12," presumably because they couldn't afford to support her and Chanti (January 19, 2000). Lalitha told the police that Reddy started having sex with her in India when she was 12 years old. The sisters' roommate Laxmi "told investigators her father sold her to Reddy when she was 14 because of economic hardship" (AP, January 19, 2000).

Reddy, along with other members of his family, falsified documents to smuggle the girls into Berkeley so that he could continue to impose sex on them whenever he felt like it. The girls were completely trapped in their relationship with Reddy: they could not speak English; they had no money; they were still minors; they would be unable to survive if they ran away. Furthermore, they were fearful that angering Reddy could cause him to act retributively toward their families in Velvadam, possibly endangering their lives. Finally, they were in awe of him, which added to their inability to resist his many ways of exploiting them. In short, the girls were his sex slaves. Reddy also forced them to work in his Pasand restaurant and to clean and paint some of the numerous buildings he owns.