A 44-year old Indian national was sentenced to two years' jail and two strokes of the cane on Tuesday for molesting an Indonesian domestic worker here, according to a media report. Sethu Selvaraj, a permanent resident here, had completed his earlier 13-week jail term over offences under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act after he was convicted in August 2020.
Selvaraj was at a Bukit Panjang coffee shop at around 8 pm on June 6 when he tried befriending the 37-year-old woman as she was walking back from a coffee shop to her employer's apartment, reported The Straits Times. Deputy Public Prosecutor Shana Poon said, "While he was following the victim, the accused asked her for her name and mobile phone number. She told the accused her name and that she did not have a mobile phone. She then continued walking back to her employer's residence." They were at the void deck of an apartment block when Selvaraj grabbed the helper's right hand and used his body to block her from going up a flight of stairs.
The court heard that the woman managed to free herself and run up the stairs. Undaunted, he chased after the victim and forcefully hugged her from behind on a landing between the first and second storeys. He continued holding on to her as she struggled to break free, the court heard.
The terrified woman yelled for help and her cries caught the attention of an off-duty police officer who was in the vicinity. The 34-year-old senior staff sergeant ran up the stairs and saw the pair.
Selvaraj was arrested after he finally released his grip on the woman. On Tuesday, District Judge Marvin Bay said, "It is important that foreign domestic workers, a vulnerable class of persons, be adequately protected from sexual exploitation... It was fortuitous that the (police officer) was present (and) was sufficiently situationally aware to find out what was happening and... directly intervene." For molestation, Selvaraj could have been jailed for up to 10 years and caned.