Correction note: An earlier version of this article included the wrong photo of the offender. The person whose photo was wrongly used is not the offender in this case of maid abuse. The photo has been removed. We apologise for the error and any inconvenience and distress caused.
In yet another abuse case involving domestic helpers, a former prison counsellor was convicted in Feb on two counts of abusing Myanmar national Than Khaw Lam.
In one instance of abuse, the 30-year-old victim suffered hearing loss in her left year for about a month after being slapped by her employer, 51-year-old Gayathri Iyer.
Ms Than had started working for the family back in June 2017.
Just a few months into her employment in Oct, the housewife had hit her shoulder after Ms Than used the word “mah” when talking to her, the court heard.
The Myanmar national kept a photographic record of the bruises she developed as a result of this abuse, which ranged from the top of her shoulder to slightly on her back.
The second instance of abuse happened two months later in Dec that year when Gayathri slapped Ms Than for failing to wake her son, who was then serving in National Service.
This happened around 5.40 am when Ms Than was doing laundry.
Gayathri slapped her twice on the left and once on the right. This was the incident that led to Ms Than losing her hearing in her left ear the whole day.
Five days later, Ms Than fled the house and went to a police station to report her ordeal.
During her trial, Gayathri’s lawyer asked for a sentence of nine weeks, highlighting his client’s former role as counsellor at Changi Prison. The prosecution pushed for nine months.
The district judge eventually sentenced Gayathri to seven months in jail and ordered her to make a compensation of S$5,330 to Ms Than.
The sentence is being appealed by the accused and bail is set for S$15,000.
Another person suggested she be banned from counselling altogether.
Others suggested that she should also be banned from hiring migrant domestic workers in the future.
One person even suggested that the prisoners she counselled should be followed up with another counsellor in case she had negatively affected them too.