SINGAPORE: A maid who ill-treated a nine-year-old child with special needs over a period of five months was sentenced to eight months' jail on Friday (Aug 17).
Atika, who goes by one name, began working as a domestic helper in the victim's home in October last year.
The girl's parents entrusted Atika, a 25-year-old Indonesian, with the task of caring for the girl, who has a developmental condition and is unable to talk.
Atika physically abused the child at least five times between January and May this year. She did this because she "got frustrated when taking care of her", court documents said.
At about 8pm on May 9, Atika was helping the child use the toilet when the victim vomited into the sink. Feeling unhappy with the child, Atika pinched her hard on the arm.
The next day, she washed the child roughly during a shower and scratched her on the back. After showering, the girl urinated on the toilet floor. Atika was irritated by this and pinched the child hard on her upper lip, the court heard.
Later that day, the girl's mother called the police, saying that Atika admitted to her that she had hit her child.
"She said she used a spoon to hit my child," said the mother. "I have been noticing scars on my child."
The girl was taken to a hospital, where a medical report listed several injuries she had suffered.
These included two small fresh healing scars over the front of the neck, one abrasion over her upper lip, six abrasions on her forearm and a bruise over her shoulder blade.
Atika pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating a child, with three charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kong Kuek Foo asked the judge to impose a sentence of 10 months' jail, saying that the victim was vulnerable and defenceless against the accused.
"Given her condition, she was unable to report the abuse she had suffered," said the prosecutor. "Instead of discharging her duties as a caregiver, Atika abused the trust placed in her by physically abusing the victim."
Atika was unrepresented but wrote a mitigation plea to the judge, saying that she was remorseful and knew she should not have done what she did.
She asked for leniency and said she has been away from her family for a year.
"I have reflected on myself and I have reflected on my behaviour that I shouldn't have done what I did," she wrote, adding that she hoped to continue her studies.
District Judge Lim Tse Haw sentenced her to eight months' jail, saying that he took into account her plea of guilt and that it was her first conviction.
However, he agreed with the prosecution that there were aggravating factors and that the victim was vulnerable.
Atika could have been jailed for up to four years, fined up to S$4,000, or both.