SINGAPORE: For more than a year, a man abused his domestic helper by slapping, kicking and rapping her on the head with his hands. Unable to take the abuse any longer, the maid ran away with her fellow domestic helper, escaping through a flat window.
Yusni Yunos, a 46-year-old aircraft technician with SIA Engineering, was sentenced to four months' jail on Thursday (Jan 23) and ordered to pay the victim S$1,500 as compensation.
The victim, 27-year-old Indonesian national Nenti Rusnianti, worked for Yusni between Jan 13, 2017 and Aug 27, 2018.
She was tasked with caring for his three children and performing household chores.
By the second month of employment, Yusni felt that Ms Nenti was "incompetent in her work and was causing him problems". He began calling her "stupid" and scolding her in Malay.
He started physically abusing her in April 2017.
On one occasion, Ms Nenti was sitting on the living room floor when he walked past her and intentionally kicked her on the knee.
She shouted in pain, and Yusni said "sorry" and "accidentally". The kick left a bruise on Ms Nenti's knee.
On another occasion in in July 2017, Yusni used a fork to hit Ms Nenti's leg.
THE PLATE INCIDENT
Yusni also assaulted Ms Nenti during the Hari Raya period in June 2018.
The court heard that Yusni had held a Hari Raya gathering at his home. At one point during the gathering, Ms Nenti moved to clear an empty plate from a guest but was stopped by Yusni, who said that the guest had not finished eating.
Sometime later, Ms Nenti noticed that the guest's plate was empty again and asked if the guest was done eating as she wanted to clear the plate.
This angered Yusni, who told her that he had already said not to clear the plate.
After the guests left, Yusni sat on the living room sofa and made Ms Nenti sit on the carpet in front of him.
She sat on the carpet along with another maid that Yusni had employed that month to replace her.
With the two maids before him, Yusni scolded Ms Nenti for clearing the plate while the guest was still eating.
He stood up and walked past the victim to his room, but used his hand to knock the top of her head.
The victim screamed in pain. Yusni apologised and said that he was very angry with her.
PULLED HER EAR OVER NOT TELLING HIM SHE WAS SLEEPING
Two months later in August 2018, Yusni slapped Ms Nenti twice on her face.
The court heard that Yusni entered the room where Ms Nenti and her companion were sleeping at about midnight on Aug 25 and scolded them for not telling him that they were going to bed.
The maids were usually required to inform Yusni that they were going to bed.
Yusni instructed the other maid to sleep in the living room.
He proceeded to scold Ms Nenti, pulling her ear twice when she did not reply to his questions.
The next day, both maids decided to run away as they were afraid for their safety after the latest incident.
They climbed out of a window of the first-floor flat and took a taxi to a maid agency, and the police were later notified.
Yusni pleaded guilty to three charges of voluntarily causing hurt, with another six charges taken into consideration.
ACCUSED CREATED OPPRESSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR MAIDS: PROSECUTOR
The prosecutor asked for four months' jail to be imposed, along with a compensation order of S$1,500.
He said while there were no medical reports of the injuries as they occurred before the victim came forward, there was evidence of psychological harm.
He pointed out the prolonged period of abuse from April 2017 to August 2018.
"There was behaviour that was calculated to reinforce the offender's authority," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Derek Ee.
"The accused had been consistently scolding the victim, creating an oppressive environment for the victim and witness."
He added that both maids had to inform Yusni when they were going to bed, and failure to do so resulted in physical punishment.
Defence lawyer Luke Lee said the injuries were "transient" and minor, while acknowledging "slight psychological harm".
He said his client was a senior technician with SIA Engineering, and that his employers do not know that he is going to go to jail.
ACCUSED CONCERNED ABOUT KEEPING JOB: DEFENCE
"He is concerned about being able to keep his job," said Mr Lee. "If you impose three weeks per charge, there is some possibility he may be able to keep his job."
He said Yusni had three children, for whom arrangements must be made as he is no longer qualified to have a maid.
He said that Yusni required the maids to inform him when they went to bed so that he would know not to disturb them.
"He wanted to know, once they go to bed - he doesn't need them to wake up to make milk for his children, because he will get his wife or he will do it himself," said Mr Lee.
District Judge Sarah Tan said she took into account Yusni's clean record and early plea of guilt, but noted that the abused spanned over a year, with at least nine instances.
"Even if a maid was not performing well, the accused ought not to take things into his own hands," she said.
She pointed out that the accused dealt multiple blows in some instances, and used an implement - the fork - on one occasion.
She granted Yusni a deferment of his sentence to Feb 20 and allowed him to make the S$1,500 compensation by Jan 30.
The penalty for voluntarily causing hurt is a jail term of up to three years, a maximum fine of S$5,000, or both. If the victim is a maid, penalties can go up to 1.5 times' that of the original.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said the accused slapped the victim for not informing him that she was going to bed. This is incorrect. The reason for the slap was not revealed in court documents.