Woman jailed for maid abuse

Suganthi Jayaraman was jailed for 15 months yesterday and ordered to pay $4,900 in compensation to her victim.
Suganthi Jayaraman was jailed for 15 months yesterday and ordered to pay $4,900 in compensation to her victim.

Employer burned maid with heated ladle and hit her with metal pestle

AN EMPLOYER who burned her domestic worker with a heated metal ladle twice and struck her with a metal grinding tool, causing her to bleed heavily, was jailed for 15 months yesterday.

Suganthi Jayaraman, 34, who pleaded guilty last month to three charges of maid abuse, was also ordered to pay $4,900 in compensation to Myanmar national Naw Mu Den Paw, 24.

She had used household items as weapons to cause hurt to her maid, who ran away from her Woodlands flat on Oct 3, 2013, after about three months of abuse.

District Judge Christopher Goh said Suganthi's acts were particularly aggravating. The use of a metal pestle and a heated metal ladle to cause hurt to the maid was "cruel and inhumane", he said.

He also said Suganthi lacked sympathy and did not get medical help for the victim despite her injuries.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Chua had argued that Suganthi's actions were deliberate and malicious and showed "a profound lack of basic respect for the domestic maid's welfare and dignity".

Judge Goh told Suganthi: "In my view, you seemed to treat the victim as a chattel rather than a fellow human being.

"There is no legitimate reason why an employer should inflict any injury on any of their employees, let alone workers who are at a disadvantage because they are working in a foreign country."

Ms Chua said Suganthi had swept the heated ladle on the calf and back of the domestic worker as she was unhappy with the taste of the curry that the maid had cooked.

About a week earlier, unhappy that the maid was not frying vadai, an Indian snack, quickly enough, Suganthi grabbed a metal pestle and hit her on the back of her head as well as near her right eyebrow.

The maid bled heavily but was not taken to hospital. Instead, she was told to finish frying the vadai and deliver them to the mini-mart run by Suganthi and her husband to be sold.

On Sept 30, she punched the maid in the left eye as the victim, who had finished work at 4am, was not up by 6.30am to take Suganthi's daughter to school.

Three other similar charges and a fourth charge of using criminal force were considered during Suganthi's sentencing.

She could have been jailed for up to 101/2 years and/or fined for causing hurt by dangerous means.

For causing hurt, she could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $7,500.

elena@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Woman jailed for maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe