Businessman denies holding maid captive

–officials say labour laws breached

While denying charges that he kept his maid against her will, the businessman yesterday admitted that the asked her young woman to rub his leg and later paid her as the service was not part of her job description.

“I did ask her to rub my leg because I get up and pull a vein and I ask her to rub my leg,” the man said yesterday, as he pointed to the upper part of his leg. He said at the time he was wearing short pants. “And it was after, out of my kindheartedness I gave her $1,500 because I know she was not employ for that,” the man told media practitioners and officials from the ministries of Amerindian Affairs and Labour, at his city business place.

The man, who would only identify himself as Mr Singh, requested that the name of his business not be published. He and his wife were responding to allegations in the press yesterday, which said among other things that they had imprisoned the young woman they had hired as their live-in maid three months ago.
The young woman was removed from the couple’s Alberttown home on Thursday afternoon by police and officials from the ministries, after they received a tip that she was being held against her will.

The two ministries along with the police have since launched an investigation. While officials said it did not appear to be a case of human trafficking since the woman has stated that she was sent on the road by herself on a number of occasions and returned by choice, they added that there appeared to be serious breaches of the labour laws. The young woman is now in the protective custody of the Amerindian Affairs Ministry and attempts made to speak to her or family members yesterday were unsuccessful as they refused to be interviewed.

‘No sexual advance’

Mr Singh, who invited the media to his premises yesterday, denied that he had made sexual advances to the woman. He said he did not consider asking her to rub his leg as inappropriate, but added that perhaps he should not have asked her as it created a problem with his wife. When asked why he did not ask his wife to rub his leg, the man said his wife was not at home and he could not contact his therapist. “Now look at me wife, she look better than most 16-year-old girls, why would I want to be making any advances?”

His wife was more concerned that the young woman did not tell her about the incident. “Why she took my husband’s money and did not tell me anything and skinning and grinning with me?” The man said when the massage was administered his 10-year-old son was in the house.

Responding to claims that he called the young woman into a room to view pornographic videos with him, he denied it occurred. When asked by one of the officials present if he watches pornography in the home, he man initially said it “is my personal business.” After his wife said there are no such DVDs in their home, he claimed he would not watch such videos in the house where he has three young children.

The man said that the publication of the story has caused immeasurable damage to his business although neither he nor his business was identified. “About thirty people call me yesterday and say boy this sound like you,” he said.

According to his wife, they employed the young woman after she was recommended by an aunt. The woman said the young woman’s cousin was initially hired but was not performing satisfactorily. After she complained, Mrs Singh said, the aunt suggested that she fire her and hire the young woman. Mrs Singh said she agreed to pay the maid $20,000 a month and three weeks after she started working, the maid approached her and requested that she give her mother her salary because her sister was ill and in hospital. “So I pay her for the month before the month was up,” the woman said before producing a charge sheet of all the money she had given to the woman. In all, the woman said the tally was $86,100, while the maid had only earned $65,000—three months and one week’s salary—and as a result the couple said she owes them $21,000.

They denied that their maid was imprisoned, saying that from time to time they would send her to run errands, which involved them giving her large sums of money. “Why didn’t she run away then? Why she come back?” he questioned. His wife said it was only last Friday that she visited their business place in a taxi to see her mother.

The wife said the maid’s mother indicated that her son was ill and she had to go home, but claimed the young woman offered to stay on until she found a replacement. The young woman had told officials that when she indicated she wanted to leave her employers informed her that she had to remain until they could replace her.

The Singhs did not deny that they took away the woman’s cellular phone, as according to the wife, “I don’t want her talking and laughing when she should be doing my work.” The husband said they gave the woman a phone as they wanted to monitor who she called or who called her and if they had “attempted to get a printout from her phone it would have been an invasion of privacy.” They admitted too that they had locked away their land-line, stating that they have had bad experiences in the past.

Meanwhile, Mrs Singh said the woman was entitled to two days and a night off each month and while she at first denied that the young woman worked from Sunday to Sunday, she admitted that the woman helped out on Sundays “because we still have to eat.” According to her, the maid’s day starts from about 06:30 hrs and ends at 17:00 hrs. The maid, Mrs Singh also said, would watch Indian soap operas with her every night from seven o’clock until half-past ten.

The couple said that they only took the maid once to a property they have in Bel Air for her to clean same. They added that they do not make National Insurance Scheme (NIS) payments for their maids because “they [the maids] can’t afford it.”

HIV Test

The couple also indicated that all prospective maids have to do an HIV test before they are employed and if they test positive, they would not be hired. “Madam, that is my home and they have to help prepare my meals and if they cut their finger or something, I wouldn’t want to get HIV from some stupidness like that. I have my children. I can’t get people like that working for me,” Mr Singh said, when told that it was discriminatory not to hire persons because of their HIV status. “I tell them about the phone and the HIV test before they are hired. They don’t have to take the job if they don’t want,” Mrs Singh added.

“I will never hire another [derogatory name for people of Amerindian heritage] again,” the angry businesswoman said and when told that she should not refer to persons in such racist terms, she said she was called a [derogatory term] by someone in her store and she took no offence. “Amerindians are exploiting business people. Them alone have all the rights?” she asked, while charging that the woman was making claims because she wanted to extract money from the couple. “They are only staining people’s name,” Mr Singh said, adding that persons like their maid was deterring business people from hiring certain people [he said he would not name the race]. “They [the certain kind of people] have too much of protection and they don’t know what they are doing. They are full of themselves,” he said.

Mrs Singh denied calling the woman names but in front of the officials she referred to the woman as a “sucker” while her husband called her “an idiot.”

The couple has also now accused the woman of stealing two video games and a pair of gold earrings.


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