Cases of abuse and maltreatment have always been a problem in countries that have a need for domestic workers. Ironic as it may seem, people from these countries depend on domestic workers in order for them to have more time to spend at work and to focus on their careers, and yet these people are the ones who bring forth injustice to those who are only there to be their ‘help.’
And while there are general laws set in place for workers, none are aimed at specifically curbing the cases of abuse and intolerance among one of Singapore’s most vulnerable communities, along with the children, elderly, and those with disabilities – the foreign domestic helpers.
Employer who Caused ‘Grievous Hurt’ to Maid Sent to Jail for 10 Months
Such is the case where upon committing the mistake of dropping a bottle of pills on the floor, a paralegal assaulted her maid with a wooden back scratcher with so much force that two of the victim’s fingers broke, as shared in a report by Yahoo! News Singapore.
A neighbour who suspected that there has been a case of maid abuse reported the incident to the police. A few days later when police officers arrived to investigate the incident, they found the Indonesian maid with bloodshot eyes and swollen hands.
At the hospital, a doctor saw some bleeding in both of the 33-year old maid’s eyes, among others.
According to court statements, the maid, Weti Alimi Carmadi from Indonesia, started working for her paralegal employer, Ng Bee Choo, back in 2016. Initially, Weti did not have any issues working for her employer on her first year with them. However, in late 2017, Ng began to resort to verbal and physical abuse with her maid.
It was in January of last year when Weti was dealt the most damage from her employer’s abusive tendencies. As Ng was preparing to go to work after having breakfast with her mother, she witnessed Weti drop a bottle of pills on the floor, which she cleaned up right after. However, Ng mistook it for Weti feeding her mother with contaminated pills, and so she became furious and started beating the maid on the head with a wooden back scratcher. Weti pleaded for her employer to stop and protected her head with her hands from the assault.
After a concerned neighbour reported the incident, the police brought Weti to the hospital and learned that she had sustained fractures on her two left-hand fingers, swelling in both hands, and bleeding in both eyes.
For this incident, Ng Bee Choo, 48, was sentenced to prison for 10 months after she pleaded guilty to one charge of causing grievous hurt. She also admitted to one count each of causing hurt and using criminal force, which were taken into consideration for her sentencing.
In Singapore, the maximum punishment for causing grievous hurt is up to 10 years’ imprisonment, along with a fine and caning. If the crime is committed by the employer of a domestic maid, or a member of the employer’s household, the perpetrator will be held liable to one and a half times the punishment. Only male violators below the age of 50 are liable for caning.