A Singaporean man who claimed that his Burmese maid consented to have sex with him has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for rape, according to local media.
The 45-year-old man, who, like his 35-year-old victim, was not named to protect the woman’s identity, received the sentence on Monday.
He was released on S$70,000 (US$49,000) bail and will appeal the sentence, which also includes 20 strokes with a cane, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported.
According to prosecutors, the man raped the maid twice on the morning of 20 December 2013 after returning home from a night of drinking while his wife and children were away on vacation.
The prosecution had sought a sentence of 15 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane after a court found in September that the woman did not consent to have sex with her employer and “was forced to undergo the full gamut of emotional turmoil and trauma… not once but twice”.
The defendant’s own lawyer had requested a lesser sentence of 11 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Burmese domestic workers often face abuse, both inside the country and abroad, due to social isolation, poverty and a lack of legal protections.
Two years ago, in a high-profile case that attracted attention to the plight of domestic workers in Singapore, a Burmese woman suffered severe injuries after falling three stories to the pavement while trying to escape her employer’s apartment, where she was being held against her will.
A temporary ban on sending women overseas to work as servants was imposed in September 2014, but rights groups say the move has only forced women from impoverished parts of the country to risk entering a completely unregulated labour black market.
In September, another high-profile cases involving underage girls subjected to horrific abuses by the owners of a well-known tailor shop in Rangoon highlighted the situation of poor children sent to work as servants.