SINGAPORE (AFP) — A Singaporean woman has admitted to starving, assaulting and ultimately killing her domestic worker from Myanmar in what prosecutors called one of the worst cases of maid abuse in the city-state.
The affluent financial hub is home to about 250,000 domestic workers who mostly come from poorer Asian countries, and stories of mistreatment are common.
But the abuse meted out against Piang Ngaih Don was particularly awful, with the helper stamped on, strangled, choked, battered with brooms, and burnt with an iron.
Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 28 charges including culpable homicide against the 24-year-old maid. She will be sentenced at a later date and could be jailed for life.
"That one human being would treat another in this evil and utterly inhumane manner is cause for the righteous anger of the court; and the law must come down with full force," prosecutors said.
The maid was employed by Gaiyathiri and her husband, a police officer, in 2015 to help take care of their 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.
But she physically assaulted the victim almost daily, often several times a day, with her 61-year-old mother sometimes joining in, according to court documents seen by AFP.
The domestic worker finally died in July 2016 after Gaiyathiri repeatedly assaulted her over several hours.
Piang Ngaih Don, who had worked for the family for over a year at the time of her death, was provided with very little food, and was forced to shower and relieve herself with the door open.
Only allowed to sleep for five hours a night, she lost about 38% of her body weight during her employment, and only weighed 52 pounds at the time of her death.
The prosecution sought a reduced charge of culpable homicide rather than murder — punishable with the death penalty in Singapore — after taking into account that Gaiyathiri suffered from illnesses including depression.
Her husband is also facing multiple charges over the case, police confirmed.
© Agence France-Presse