SINGAPORE: A woman who subjected her Indonesian maid to “horrific abuse” using things like a hammer and a pestle was sentenced to 11 years’ jail on Thursday (Aug 1).
Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, was also ordered to pay the foreign domestic worker about S$56,500 in compensation or serve an additional five months’ jail.
Her husband, 60-year-old Mohamad Dahlan, received 15 months’ jail and a compensation order of S$1,000 for his part in the abuse, which the prosecution described as one of the worst cases in recent history.
The couple had been found guilty after a long-running trial.
The abuse started in June 2012 and went on for six months.
The victim, 32-year-old Ms Khanifah, had her teeth knocked out by a hammer. Her left ear lobe became deformed after she was hit by a bamboo pole.
She was also hit on the forehead with a stone pestle and stabbed in the shoulder with a pair of scissors.
HIT ON THE HEAD WITH HAMMER ON FIVE DIFFERENT OCCASIONS
The abuse began after Zariah felt the toilet was not "clean enough". She also scolded Ms Khanifah for working too slowly.
After hitting the maid on the back of her head with a hammer, Zariah handed her a sanitary pad for the bleeding.
The attack with a hammer took place on five different occasions. Once, angry over the maid's cleaning, Zariah told her to grin and bare her teeth before swinging the hammer at her mouth.
A similar attack a second time broke Ms Khanifah's two front teeth and dislodged two bottom ones.
The abuse came to light after the maid was sent home suddenly without explanation by her employers.
Ms Khanifah's younger sister discovered the injuries and she received medical treatment in Jakarta only in January 2013, when she was warded in hospital for 15 days.
Over the course of the trial, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien told the court that the abuse suffered by the victim was also psychological.
She said Ms Khanifah lived "in an atmosphere of immense fear and foreboding, never knowing when Zariah would strike her again, and to what degree".
It was her first job, her first time out of the country and she spoke no English, said the prosecutor.
Apart from the abuse, Zariah told Ms Khanifah that no outgoing calls could be made from the house phone, threw away a book belonging to the victim which contained phone numbers and warned her not to speak to neighbours.
She held Ms Khanifah captive in the house, locking the door and windows and telling her to stay in the toilet when there were visitors.
She also frequently lied to her that her eldest child had died back home, and claimed that there was not enough money to send her back to Indonesia.
In her victim impact statement, Ms Khanifah said she was traumatised by the incident.
"Even at the court hearings, when I saw her, I felt very scared because I was reminded of what happened," she said. "I was scared if I was going to be attacked by her again."
She was also affected by the disfiguration, saying she was very embarrassed about her looks.
"I am very shy now. I feel like I am disfigured," she said. "I feel like people would give me a different look, like they are disgusted with how I look."
INJURIES SELF-INFLICTED, WOMAN HAD STROKE: DEFENCE
The defence, on its part, pointed out how it was irrational for the victim not to escape the abuse, arguing that the injuries were self-inflicted.
Zariah said she was a stroke patient and paralysed on her left side, but the prosecution said she carried out the abuse with her right hand.
The defence also showed photos purportedly taken during the period of abuse, showing an uninjured Ms Khanifah.
However, the prosecution slammed this as "a cynical attempt" to deceive the court.
"This is by far one of the worst maid abuse to come before the courts since Tay Wee Kiat," said the prosecutor, referring to a landmark case.
"The accused persons have shown no remorse for the horrific and inhuman acts perpetuated against the hapless victim."
"Up till today, she feels pain in her head because of the repeated and serious assault she suffered to her head," said the prosecution.
District Judge Luke Tan said on Thursday that the accused "sadly demonstrated no remorse" and instead "acted in various ways that largely aggravated the situation".