SINGAPORE: A woman who hit her maid with a hammer, bamboo pole and stone pestle, among other household items, and causing permanent disfiguration, was found guilty of maid abuse on Friday (Sep 29).
Zariah Mohd Ali, 56, faced 28 charges of abusing her maid, Khanifah, and claimed trial to 12 of the charges.
They include hitting the back of Khanifah's head with a hammer; hitting her mouth with a hammer; hitting her left ear with a bamboo pole; hitting her forehead with a stone pounder; stabbing her shoulder with a pair of scissors; slashing her forearm; and pushing her left little finger back so hard that the maid could no longer straighten her finger.
Zariah's husband, Mohamed Dahlan, 58, faced a single charge of hitting Khanifah on the head with a cover of a frying pan at their Woodlands flat some time between June and December 2012.
Ms Khanifah, who was 32 years old at the time, had come to Singapore from Indonesia for the first time.
The maid's relationship with her employers was good for the first six months, but deteriorated after Ms Khanifah's six-month medical check-up, court documents stated.
The abuse started when Zariah scolded Ms Khanifah for not cleaning the toilet "clean enough" and for working too slowly. When Ms Khanifah continued cleaning, Zariah hit the back of her head with the blunt end of a hammer.
Ms Khanifah shouted: "Ma'am, pain" and her head began to bleed. Her employer gave her a sanitary pad to stop the bleeding.
In all, Zariah hit Ms Khanifah on the head with a hammer on about five occasions, court documents showed.
Ms Khanifah's head wounds had not yet healed by the time her employer hit her a fifth time, causing it to bleed more than it had on the first occasion. Again, Zariah gave her a sanitary pad to dress the wound.
The abuse left permanent scars on the maid's head.
Zariah also hit Ms Khanifah's mouth with a hammer on more than two occasions.
On the first occasion, she scolded the maid over some cleaning, and told her to grin and bare her teeth. She swung the hammer at Ms Khanifah's mouth, hitting her teeth and bottom lip, causing her teeth to become slightly loosened.
On the second occasion, the impact of the hammer broke Ms Khanifah's two front teeth and caused another two teeth in the bottom row to become detached.
Zariah also hit Ms Khanifah with a bamboo pole at least twice, causing the maid's left ear to become deformed.
The abuse was so frequent that the victim was simply unable to recall the precise dates and times when the abuse happened, the court heard.
Zariah and her family took steps to conceal signs of the abuse by telling the maid to wear a long-sleeved sweater when she did grocery shopping and to wear a tudung, even though she did not wear one previously.
The employers also made sure that Ms Khanifah had no means of escape by locking the doors and windows of the flat. The maid also was told to stay in the kitchen toilet when visitors came over.
Ms Khanifah was abruptly sent home on Dec 19, 2012.
Her injuries came to light only after her younger sister discovered them, and it wasn't until Jan 3, 2013 that Ms Khanifah received medical treatment in Jakarta, where she was warded in a hospital for 15 days.