First conviction in Singapore of employer raping maid

A 45-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to 13 years in jail and 20 strokes of the cane for raping his domestic worker in the first conviction of its kind in Singapore.

There are no previous reported cases of employers convicted of raping their maids.

The prosecution, in submitting sentencing precedents in the current case, said "no cases with a direct factual parallel to the present case exist".

Yesterday, the alcohol distributor - who was not named to protect his victim's identity - was convicted of two counts of raping his maid from Myanmar on Dec 20, 2013.

There have, however, been cases in Singapore of offenders sentenced for breaking into properties to rape the maids working there.

In 2010, a gardener from Bangladesh who broke into a house and raped an Indonesian maid was sentenced to 15 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane on each of four counts of rape. He also faced charges for housebreaking, sexual penetration and outrage of modesty and received a total sentence of 18 years' jail and 24 strokes.

In 2013, a jobless man lured his neighbour's maid out of her flat, then forced his way in and raped her twice. He then tried to kill her by winding a raffia string round her neck.

He was given 15 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane on each of two counts of rape, with the jail sentences to be served concurrently. In total, he was given 27 years and 24 strokes, including for attempted murder.

There were also cases of employers who were accused of raping their maids but cleared of the charges after the maids' testimonies were called into doubt.

In April 2013, a father of four was acquitted of raping the family's maid.

A district court found that the maid's testimony was riddled with "jarring inconsistencies" and it would be dangerous to convict the 47-year-old based solely on her uncorroborated account.

For instance, the 23-year-old maid from Myanmar told the police that the accused was naked when he grabbed her in the bathroom. But she told the court he was wearing shorts.

The court also found "illogical" the maid's explanation that she had not shouted for help as she did not know how to scream in English.

In September 2006, a safety officer was cleared of raping his maid on five of the six nights that she spent at his Woodlands flat, while his wife and two children were in India. The accused denied raping the maid but said he had consensual sex with her once.

The High Court judge found the 48-year-old accused a more convincing witness than the 35-year-old maid, whose testimony he found unreliable on important aspects.

For instance, the court was not convinced by her claim that she was raped five times on the first night by the accused, who had penile dysfunction and a low testosterone level.

She also claimed he had locked her in a bedroom but contradicted herself when she said she had cleaned the other rooms while he was at work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline 'First conviction in Singapore of employer raping maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe