Note from BBT: Let’s be real. Is there really any way that one can be re-paid or repaired for the damages done them after having been enslaved? And for purposes of clarity, I’m not speaking of the era in which slavery was an actual regime in Brazil, lasting for 350 years. No, I’m speaking of a recent situation in a black woman was held in a home and forced to work in conditions analogous to slavery for nearly 40 years. This woman’s ordeal only ended in November in last in a story that was presented not only on this blog, but made headlines around the world.
It’s been a minute since I did a report on the story of Madalena Gordiano so I wanted to update readers on her situation. As I wrote previously, I hope the family responsible for her enslavement are punished to the full extent of the law, even though Madalena can never be really made whole after having lost 38 years of her life serving people as if she were their property.
Justice is indeed being served and Madalena appears to be returning to some sense of normalcy these days. She looks much better than she did just a few months ago when the very look on her face seemed to reveal she had been through something horrific.
Below is an update on her as well as what’s going on with those responsible for robbing her of nearly four decades of her life and freedom.
Magdalene shows transformation after being rescued from slavery
With long hair and makeup, she posed for a photo shoot in which she appears smiling and happy
Courtesy of Catraca Livre
Anyone who sees Madalena Gordiano, 46, now doesn’t imagine the suffering she went through in her 38 years of working in a situation similar to slavery for a family in Patos de Minas in the state of Minas Gerais.
Prevented from going to school, Madalena lost her childhood and in adulthood she was forced to work receiving a negligible salary. She lived in a small windowless room with no ventilation when she was rescued in November of last year.
Today, a few months later, Madalena has her dignity back. With a broad smile and visibly younger, she insists on showing the redeeming of her self-esteem on social networks.
Her curly hair is longer, at shoulder length, and wearing makeup, she was a model for a photo shoot in which she appears relaxed in a floral print dress.
Madalena’s Instagram account has more than 24,000 followers.
“Photos that warm my heart!!! Fly, you deserve the world”, wrote a follower.
“It’s exciting to see the transformation! So beautiful! The world is yours Madah!” wrote another.
Understand the Madalena case
Madalena Gordiano was found by agents of the MPT (Public Ministry of Labor) in a situation similar to slavery on November 28 at the home of university professor Dalton Cesar Milagres Rigueira. In late January, the couple Valdirene and Dalton signed an extrajudicial agreement with the MPT to pay labor rights to Madalena.
The agreement provides for the payment of salary and severance payments calculated based on the monthly salary of BRL 1,045.00, for a period of 14 full years, between December 2006 and November 2020, during which time she provided services at the family home Rigueira.
Since the age of 8, Madalena Gordiano lived in conditions similar to slavery in Patos de Minas, Minas Gerais
Madalena and couple that kept her as a slave for nearly 40 years
Family that enslaved Madalena puts property up for sale to pay compensation
Courtesy of Catraca Livre
The couple accused of keeping Gordiano in working conditions similar to slavery put the apartment where they lived in the city up for sale to pay the compensation determined by the Courts. The family is requesting BRL 600,000 for the property.
University professor Dalton Rigueira and his wife, Valdirene Lopes, signed an agreement in January with the MPT (Public Prosecutor’s Office) in which they pledged to pay the full amount owed to Madalena for the 14 years she worked at their home, including overtime, 1/3 vacation, an FGTS (401k) fine, 13th salary, in addition to moral damages. The information is taken from the O Tempo newspaper.
According to the report, the lawyer for the Rigueira family, Brian Epstein, affirmed that “the sale is part of the agreement made in court, which determines that part of the amount will be used in the payment of labor compensation for Madalena”.
The agreement provides for the payment of salary and severance payments calculated based on the monthly salary of BRL 1,045.00, for a period of 14 full years, between December 2006 and November 2020, during which time she provided services at the Rigueira family home.
Although slavery has been abolished in several countries, its practice remains widespread in “contemporary forms”, which include various violations, such as forced labor and child labor, the use of children in armed conflicts, debt and domestic bondage, servile marriages, sexual slavery and human trafficking.
In 2012, there were about 21 million people subjected to forced labor in the world, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Almost half of them (11.4 million) were women and girls.
A decision by the STJ (Superior Court of Justice) confirmed the understanding that there is no need for deprivation of liberty to occur in order to be able to characterize work as a situation analogous to slavery.
Keeping workers in conditions analogous to slavery is considered a crime, marked in the Brazilian penal code. The penalty is two to eight years in prison, in addition to the payment of a fine.
Since 1995, approximately 55,000 people have been rescued from slavery in Brazil.