SINGAPORE: A woman who abused her domestic worker and applied thick make-up over the maid’s bruises when the police turned up was sentenced to jail on Monday (Mar 6).
Deepakala Chandra Secharan, 38, was given 10 months and 10 weeks’ jail and ordered to pay S$4,000 in compensation to the victim, Ms Eni Agustin.
She had contested the charges, but was found guilty of three counts of voluntarily causing hurt to a maid.
Ms Eni started working at Deepakala’s flat in Woodlands in December 2019, but was abused just 16 days after.
Deepakala repeatedly poked Ms Eni’s forehead with a finger, leaving a scratch, after the maid mixed up cutlery in a kitchen drawer.
In April 2020, Deepakala struck Ms Eni with a wooden clothes hanger until it broke. She also grew angry when the maid could not find masking tape.
She took a nearly depleted roll of masking tape and hit the victim’s forehead with it.
When the maid answered her to say it would take her half an hour to clean a pathway in the flat, Deepakala grew angry and slapped the maid’s cheeks repeatedly.
She stopped only after her husband intervened, but later hit the maid’s arm and back with a stick.
The case came to light after another maid in a lower unit saw Ms Eni with bruises on her face. The maid suggested alerting the authorities, and called the Centre for Domestic Employees after Ms Eni agreed.
The police were alerted and went down to the flat. When Deepakala realised that they were on her doorstep, she took Ms Eni to a bathroom.
She instructed Ms Eni to lie about the origin of her injuries by saying she sustained them through a traditional body-scratching treatment.
Deepakala also applied make-up on Ms Eni’s face to cover the bruises.
However, a police officer later saw heavy foundation on Ms Eni’s face. The bruises were revealed when the make-up was wiped off.
SUBMISSIONS ON SENTENCE
On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang asked for between 12.5 months and six weeks’ jail and 16 months and eight weeks’ jail for Deepakala, along with a compensation order of S$4,000.
Deepakala’s lawyer, Mr Mohamed Baiross, asked for a lower jail term with concurrent sentences instead of consecutive.
He said Deepakala “is a good contributing person of society” and a “family woman” with no previous offences.
He said his client has gone through a trial and “has suffered a lot”.
“So has the victim,” he added. “Everybody has suffered here.”
Mr Yang responded that if the court pities the accused as the defence asked for: “Who will pity the domestic helper?”
He said running sentences concurrently would be akin to giving a licence to offenders to abuse domestic workers repeatedly.
In sentencing, the judge noted the steps Deepakala took to deceive the police, hide the offences and prevent the victim from getting help.
He said public interest requires a clear signal to be sent, that all instances of maid abuse will be dealt with firmly.