A B.C. resident offered a 21-year-old African woman a job and a work visa in Canada – but when the young woman arrived, she found herself forced into domestic slavery, Mounties say.

The victim toiled in fear while confined in a West Vancouver home for a year before she escaped, authorities told CTV News after they laid B.C.'s second-ever human trafficking charges.

"She was forced to hand wash the clothing of the people in the house. When guests came over, their cars would be hand-washed by this person," Const. Michael McLaughlin said.

"In some cases, she wasn't getting enough food – not what one would consider a full meal – and was not able to sleep unless everyone else in the home was already asleep."

Mumtaz Ladha, 55, is accused of bringing the young African into B.C. three years ago with the promise of a job in a hair salon.

RCMP allege when the young woman arrived, she was kept in Ladha's home and forced to perform menial, unpaid labour 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

McLaughlin says the woman had her passport hidden away from her, and for months believed she had no recourse but to continue enduring the extreme conditions.

But in June 2009, one year after arriving, she managed to escape to a women's shelter. Her story then spurred an RCMP Human Trafficking Team investigation, aided by the West Vancouver Police Department.

On May 12, charges of human trafficking and human smuggling were approved against Ladha, marking only the second time a human trafficking charge has been approved in the province.

The smuggling charge alone can carry a fine of up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison for a first offence.

McLaughlin said Mounties have been unable to locate Ladha at home, and have issued a B.C. warrant enforceable Canada-wide for her arrest.

The victim is not prepared to speak publicly, but continues to receive support from various social assistance agencies, McLaughlin said.

The RCMP says shocking cases of human trafficking do occur in Canada, and urges residents not to turn a blind eye to potential offences.

"If you see conditions that a human ought not be living under, conditions that are beyond reasonable, give your local RCMP a call," McLaughlin said. "The worst that can happen is we can confirm there's nothing wrong."