A 41-year-old Singaporean woman named Gaiyathiri Murugayan has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for the horrific abuse and culpable homicide of Piang Ngaih Don, a 24-year-old domestic worker from Myanmar, five years after Don’s death.
Among other abuses, Don was starved by Murugayan and only weighed 53 lbs when she died following an attack by Murugayan and her mother which fractured Don’s throat and resulted in irreversible brain damage.
Piang Ngaih Don was only allowed to sleep for five hours a night and was forced to work in Murugayan’s household looking after the family’s children and carrying out domestic tasks, all while being subjected to life-threatening abuse.
Over the course of about 14 months Ms Piang Ngaih Don – who came to Singapore to work for Gaiyathiri in May 2015 – was kicked, punched and beaten with objects such as a broom and a metal ladle.
Gaiyathiri had also lifted Piang Ngaih Don up by her hair, shook her violently and pulled out a clump of her hair, even using an iron to burn the maid’s arm on one occasion.
The abuse was so regular that, according to CNA, the accused had initially been charged with 115 offences based solely on the last two months of Piang Ngaih Don’s life which were recorded on CCTV.
Murugayan has been charged with culpable homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The presiding judge noted that, “…words cannot adequately describe the abject cruelty of the accused’s appalling conduct.”
Murugayan’s husband and mother are also facing charges of abuse.
This was Don’s first time working overseas and though the perpetrators have been caught, there is no justice when her life has been cut short. While this case is particularly shocking, it is unfortunately not abnormal. Domestic servitude is one of the most common forms of modern slavery across the world today.
Piang Ngaih Don’s death should serve as a wake-up call to urgently implement protections for all domestic workers and ensure migrant workers are protected from exploitation and abuse.
We can do something about it. The International Labour Organization’s Domestic Workers Convention (C189) is an international standard designed to protect domestic workers from exploitation and abuse. Freedom United has gathered over 85,000 signatures calling on governments to ratify C189 and take a stand against domestic servitude.
Take a stand against domestic slavery and add your name today.