Maid abuse cases are not uncommon in Singapore. From physical torture such as burning FDWs with a hot iron, to starving them, but nearly killing them, there have been several traumatic incidents where maids were at the receiving end of their employers’ wrath.
In spite of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) laying down strict rules and cracking their whip on offenders, these crimes are rampant across the island. In a new case that has come to the front, an Indian-origin primary school school teacher in Singapore allegedly hurt her domestic help with a hot ladle.
Her husband is also reportedly also guilty of abusing their maid. The incident reportedly took place just 11 days after the Myanmar national started working for this family.
Maid Abuse Cases: Primary School Teacher And Husband Face Charges
The maid abuse case reportedly started taking place just 11 days after the Myanmar national started working at the offenders’ house in 2018. Image courtesy: iStock
Nachammai Selva Nachiappan, 39, and her husband, Arunachalam Muthiah, 41, are facing multiple abuse charges involving their maid, Hla Hla Miang, 37.
Nachiappan stands on trial facing five charges. She is accused of acts like hitting Miang’s face with a clothes hanger and throwing a hot ladle at her.
Muthiah, who faces three charges, is accused of kicking the maid and punching her, The Straits Times reported.
Through an interpreter, Ms Hla Hla Myaing testified that on 25 June 2018, the first assault occurred when she was in the kitchen along with her female employer. The maid explained to the court that her employer was expecting her to cook Indian, while she didn’t know how to cook the cuisine.
As per Miang’s testimony, Nachammai threw a hot ladle at her, injuring her right hand.
In spite of all the abuses from Nachammai and her family’s side, they brought the helper back to the maid agency, apparently because “they were dissatisfied with her work.”
The maid is now deployed to a separate household, where no abuse has presumably happened.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) had earlier told The Straits Times that it would review the case against Nachammai and take the appropriate actions according to its internal disciplinary processes.
On the other hand, Miang’s interpreter in court had to be replaced after he was spotted trying to pass Ms Hla Hla Myaing some money.
When queried, the man told Judge that he had tried to give her some “loose change” for lunch as she had a $50 note with her. The judge said that it would be “prudent” to engage somebody else as interpreters “should not be helping witnesses in any way.”
The joint trial of the couple will resume today, on May 4, for an offence carrying a maximum penalty of 10-and-a-half years and fines or caning. It needs to be mentioned that Nachammai will not be caned, as she is a woman.
While this case is under investigation, it doesn’t take away from the fact that maid abuse cases are rampant. So if you know somebody who may be going through this ordeal, there are a few things you can do to help.
Here’s How You Can Help Curb Maid Abuse Cases
Look for physical signs which you may see in the victim like a bruised hand or a black eye. Image courtesy: Pixabay
It is very important to raise your voice against the offender and complain to the police. There are several ways in which you can also help a victim and thus put an end to the maid abuse cases.
Look for physical signs
It is natural that a victim may not be confident of opening up about their abuse incidents. But, you can keep an eye on some of the physical signs-
Red or purple marks on the neck
Bruises on the arms
If they are a victim of any abuse, you will also find a change in their behaviour. You may notice some of these changes-
Becoming withdrawn or distant
Isolating themselves from friends and family
Being too secretive about their personal life
These are some signs which you should never ignore. It is advisable in this instance to speak to them privately. Urge them to share and show them the confidence that you are with them.
Believe in them
Sometimes the offender may be very close to you and the victim may hesitate to approach you. But, you need to look at the case in a very unbiased manner.
Give them the confidence that you believe in them. No matter how close you are to the offender, you should always speak the truth and support the victim.
Don’t blame and shame her
Don’t blame her, if she comes telling you that she is a victim of abuse. Even though you may not be able to help her, but be supportive towards her.
Tell her “Whenever you feel like talking or sharing something do call me”. The assurance that they have someone to think about them, will help them feel better. However, in case of a family member, it is always difficult to be objective, which is why you must also be open to hearing both sides of the story.
Help her make a safety plan
If she is kept in an overly scrutinised environment, help her make a safety plan. Ask her to pack personal items and give her a code word. This word will help you know if she is in danger without an abuser knowing about it.
Contact the authorities
MOM mentions that complaints of abuse are investigated by the police. If convicted, employers will face severe penalties under the law. They and their spouses will also be permanently banned from employing another FDW. You can try 999 in case of an emergency or an accident.
There are some agencies and NGOs that have been extending help to maids in distress. You can also contact them if you are not in a position to help the FDW.
Home: This NGO works tirelessly to safeguard the human rights of these migrant domestic workers. Thus, maids who have been a victim of abuse, exploitation, and human rights violation can contact this charity group for help.
HELPLINE (For domestic workers to call)
1800 797 7977 (Toll-free)
+65 9787 3122 (Whatsapp / Viber / SMS)
Healthserve: The group works to provide proper assistance to the migrant workers who are facing any kind of problems in Singapore. It aims to offer a life of dignity to every migrant worker.
Tel: 3157 4450
Foreign Domestic Worker Association: The society is registered under the Charities Act and lends a helping hand to foreign domestic workers in distress.
+65 6509 1535
For employers, it is important to understand that maids are human beings at the end of the day. They are just doing their job by serving you, which gives you no authority to torture them. If people can only remember this basic thing, there will be an end to maid abuse cases one day.
News source: The Strait Times