You may have heard there's a big grudge match going on between the U.S. and India right now -- and you may have thought, Meh, who cares? But the whole reason behind this unseasonable rift is surprising. A diplomat from India and mom of two says she was strip searched and jailed for allegedly paying her nanny/housekeeper only $3 an hour. So ... that's something that can happen here? The strip search for underpaying, I mean.
Okay, let's walk through this one, because it gets a leetle complicated.
India's deputy consul general in New York Devyani Khobragade was arrested (right after dropping her daughter off at school) for paying her nanny $3.31 an hour and lying about it on her nanny's visa forms. Really, it's less about the underpaying and more about the visa fraud. On paper she said she pays her nanny $4,500 a month, when really it was closer to $600 a month. In this age of terrorism paranoia? Lying on a visa is a really bad idea -- even if you're lying about how much you pay someone to watch your kids. Khobragade could face 10 years in jail for this. It's that serious.
Khobragade was released on bail, but she complains she was stuck in jail with a bunch of low-life sex workers and drug addicts. WELL YEAH, say Americans. That's who's in jail, mostly. Worse, Khobragade says she was strip-searched. That one does kind of make you squirm. A mom and a diplomat from another country was strip-searched just for underpaying her nanny and lying about it? Here's how Khobragade describes her ordeal:
I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping, and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity. I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride.
To make things worse, there's a huge disagreement over whether or not Khobragade should have diplomatic immunity.
So a diplomat has been denied immunity, jailed like she's Jenelle Evans or something (diplomats are considered too fancy for jail ...), and strip-searched. And that's why India is mad at us. I know you probably weren't going to lose any sleep over that last part. But doesn't it kind of give you the chills to know that lying about how much you're going to pay an immigrant to watch your kids could get you into this much trouble?
I mean, the police say a strip search is standard procedure for arrests. (Yikes, is it? Remind me to never, ever do anything illegal.) But it was probably excessive, given the context. It's not like she's going to smuggle in a nail file and a butane torch and try to escape. Then again, if we believe in treating everyone equally, and the rule is that everyone who goes to jail is subject to a strip search, why should anyone be above that rule?
Do you think lying about pay on your nanny's visa should get you into this much trouble?
Image via Noam Armonn/Spaces Images/Corbis