District Judge Kenneth Yap acquitted a housewife of physically abusing her domestic helper after evidence and accounts pointed to the contrary.
Singh Manu (42) a housewife and resident of Jurong East, employed a domestic helper Rajinder Kaur (28) in August 2016.
Rajinder was the youngest of 3 sisters from Punjab, India and went to work in Singapore to be the breadwinner of her family.
The judge noted Rajinder’s “lack of maturity” in handling the situation. Defence lawyers also cited her irresponsibility and neglect of her duties as a domestic helper to the Singh family as a cause for concern.
Rajinder allegedly refused to clean the bathrooms, saying it was a task for people of lower caste back home in India. During one picnic event, she did not help with preparations but rather played with the children. In addition, she left the apartment doors open and unlocked and did not turn off the gas switch.
Rajinder’s diary, medical reports, and testimony were used in the case.
The judge asked Rajinder about a diary entry concerning how the Singhs gave her “food that was not good.” When asked to elaborate, Rajinder said she was given her own dough to make chapati while the Singhs ate their own bread.
Her inconsistent accounts of the events and details of the abuse worked against her case. Rajinder said Ms. Singh allegedly slapped her back but later changed her account to being hit by a closed fist. She also provided different versions of the same event that involved how she was hit by a knife. Medical reports did not show evidence of such a knife injury.
Domestic helpers are vulnerable workers and are often exploited by agencies and suffer abuse from employers. But, as the judge noted in this case, “employers need to be given the benefit of the doubt” in a fair trial.
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