A maid abuser who was caught when an alert police officer heard her apologising to her domestic helper in Tamil, was jailed for four months and three weeks on Monday (20 November).
Retired warrant officer K. Rajakumari, 56, was convicted last September on five charges of voluntarily causing hurt to her helper Sargunam Jeeva, 35.
Jeeva was employed by Rajakumari from end-January 2012 to 5 March that year, which is when the abuse took place.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana noted in her sentencing submissions that the acts of abuse “escalated” from verbal abuse to Rajakumari using her bare hands to hit Jeeva, and later to the use of household objects to inflict injuries upon the victim.
Rajakumari regularly slapped, pinched and hit Jeeva whenever she did not perform the household chores to Rajakumari’s standards.
She also once dragged Jeeva by the hair into the living room, knocked her head and then kicked her extremities after she had fallen to the ground. On another occasion, Rajakumari became unhappy over how Jeeva had ironed her uniform and hit the latter with a plastic hanger until it broke.
Jeeva, who described the treatment she received while working for Rajakumari as “torture”, had pleaded with her employer to be sent back to her agency. Rajakumari refused, stating that she had paid to have Jeeva work for her and would not let her go.
The abuse only came to an end on 5 March 2012, when Jeeva gestured for help to a neighbouring maid, who then called the police. That night, a policeman heard Rajakumari tell Jeeva in Tamil: “Please forgive me, I won’t do this any more, please don’t tell anyone about the abuse.”
Rajakumari did not know that the officer could speak Tamil and she later admitted to him that she had hit Jeeva.
Abuse of power
DPP Sruthi asked for a jail term of no less than six months for Rajakumari, citing how the latter had “profoundly abused her position of authority over Jeeva… robbing her of her dignity as a domestic worker”.
The DPP noted that Jeeva was a particularly vulnerable victim, as it was her first time in Singapore and her first time working as a maid, adding that she also does not speak much English.
“(Rajakumari’s neighbour) Madam Tan described that Jeeva would often be crying and would clasp her hands together, beat her chest and plead for help from her,” said DPP Sruthi, who added that Tan and her helper would hear Rakaumari raising her voice at Jeeva on “almost a daily basis”.
Rajakumari’s lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan had earlier asked District Judge Imran Hamid to sentence his client to probation, citing her physical ailments, such as her three hip replacements. She was also found unsuitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order, which would have seen her receive counselling in lieu of jail time.
For each charge, Rajakumari could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.
More Singapore stories: