Singaporean Gaiyathiri Murugayan pleaded guilty in February to culpable homicide among 28 charges related to her abuse of Piang Ngaih Don, who was 24 and subjected to 14 months of beating that culminated in her death in 2016.
Judge See Kee Oon said that though Murugayan, 40, suffered significant psychiatric problems, the offenses she committed were abhorrent and with purpose.
“The extremely aggravated and horrific circumstances of the offenses are crucial considerations that tip the scales towards retribution and deterrence,” the judge said in sentencing, according to a transcript provided by the court.
“She was cognizant of her actions and purposeful in her conduct. She did not lack capacity to comprehend what she was doing.”
Murugayan’s lawyer, Joseph Chen, said a family member of his client had asked him to file an appeal seeking a shorter prison term of 15 to 16 years so she could still spend time with her children upon her release.
“People with psychiatric disorder look at things differently, they cannot pull themselves out of the situation,” he told Reuters. “To the family member, the 30 years sentence is as bad as life imprisonment.”
Domestic workers in Asia and their supporters have long reported severe exploitation and abuse from employers, as well as poor or dangerous working and living conditions. Most of these domestic workers are female migrants from Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines — and are offered few protections under their host countries’ laws.