Indian-Origin Singaporean Bar Owner Rapes 17-Year-Old Runaway, Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison

An Indian-origin Singaporean bar owner has been sentenced to 13 years and four weeks in jail for raping a runaway 17-year-old girl after allowing her to work for him. Raj Kumar Bala, 42, has been convicted of raping and molesting the victim. He also pleaded guilty to a third charge of harbouring a runaway under the Children and Young Persons Act, PTI reported. His punishment, announced on Monday, also includes nine strokes of the cane.

The victim was 17 in 2020 when she ran away from the Singapore Girls’ Home. Another runaway had informed her about a job opportunity at Bala’s Don Bar and Bistro on Dunlop Street in the Little India precinct, which comprises several hotels, motels and eateries. 

When the victim met Bala for an interview, he described her job duties as serving customers and making drinks. He also reportedly told her that she could stay at the bar with other runaways.

Another runaway was also allegedly sexually assaulted by Bala but this charge has been “stood down” or put on hold for now, PTI reported. 

The victim had been working at the bar for only a few days when the police received a tip-off about absconders employed at Bala’s bar. The place was raided in the early hours of February 22, 2020. 

The victim fled with another girl, and they were picked up by Bala and driven to his condominium. Bala told the girls that they could stay at the condo before they started drinking alcohol. The victim was heavily intoxicated when she was raped by Bala, who also allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the other girl. 

The victim left the condo in July 2020 and went back to the home, and only told them about the rape in August 2020. 

According to the PTI report, Justice Mavis Chionh noted the “considerable personal harm” inflicted on the victim as Bala was sentenced, and that the runaway blamed herself for how she came to be in an intoxicated state at the time of the crime.

The judge noted that Bala knew that the victim was dependent on him for income and shelter as she was young and on the run from the police.

Her testimony in court was corroborated by her former boyfriend. 

As per the report, Defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said Bala has asked to be released on bail pending appeal. Bala faces 22 more charges relating to five other victims, mainly for sex offences, PTI reported. The charges are pending in court.

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