New Zealand agencies assessing complaint of human trafficking, alleged rape at Gloriavale's India commune

Warning: The following article discusses sexual assault.

Police, Oranga Tamariki, foreign affairs and Immigration officials are looking into concerns about human trafficking, coerced marriages and alleged rape at Gloriavale's sister community in India.

It comes after two former members of the West Coast commune travelled to India to visit the site.

In the state of Tamil Nadu in India, two former members of Gloriavale's New Zealand chapter were filmed entering Gloriavale's community.

With hidden cameras rolling, their experience was documented in a multi-part series on TVNZ.

What they found has in part prompted action from lawyer Deborah Manning

"I wrote to the relevant agencies raising concerns of what appears to be potential trafficking of women from Gloriavale to India and coerced marriage."

This woman, known as Precious, came to India seven years ago after Gloriavale's leaders asked her to fly over and marry an Indian man.

She didn't have her passport and there appeared to be no formal record of the babies being born there.

Gloriavale's leader in India, Faithful Stronghold, then made a disturbing admission when the visiting women raised concerns about sexual abuse.

"What is rape? Raping - it happens from one side. Indian men are very forceful around women," he said.

"It's part of the culture. And there's a lot of Indian men who force themselves onto a lot of women because of the shortage of ladies in India."

Manning says such comments are shocking.

"That's an extremely concerning statement particularly in the context of what we know about the Gloriavale community."

What we know, as detailed in multiple court cases is that women are controlled.

A forensic psychiatrist said during a recent case: 

"Women living in a coercive or socially entrapped environment have restricted autonomy and are disempowered from making independent choices and decisions."

"Police have confirmed to Newshub they've received a formal letter of concern and are assessing it in conjunction with other relevant agencies."

Manning said agencies she complained to are acting.

"They have taken immediate steps since being contacted. There have been a number of cross sector coordinated meetings and interviews are being set up with relevant individuals," Manning told Newshub.

But Gloriavale denies any issues.

A community spokesperson told Newshub no one has complained and that women went to India to marry "of their own free will" and with "the convictions they had in their own hearts."

"Some have returned to New Zealand, and then gone back."

Lawyer Brian Henry doesn't buy such explanations.

"We've always said that Christianity is a cloak for sexual misbehaviour," he said.

He's taking a case against Government agencies, claiming civil servants have failed to do their job for years.

"They haven't looked after the victims. That's why the proceedings are coming."