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Maid jailed for rough handling of toddler during bedtime routines

The domestic worker's actions came to light when the victim's father checked a live closed-circuit television feed of his daughter's bedroom last year.

SINGAPORE: A domestic worker was jailed for 10 months on Thursday (Aug 25) after she roughly handled a 22-month-old toddler for weeks.

Sri Eha Santika Sari, 29, pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt comprising five incidents in August 2021.

Another charge of committing a rash act that endangered the toddler's safety was considered for sentencing.

The maid started working for the victim's family in December 2020. She admitted to handling the toddler in a rough manner from June 2021.

This included hitting the toddler, flicking her ears, pulling her hair, knocking her head and smacking her feet.

She also pushed the toddler forcefully onto the mattress when she tried to move away, or pulled the toddler's hands and feet when she was restless or did not sleep.

This mostly took place during the toddler's bedtime routine, when the maid was in charge of feeding her and putting her to sleep.

Her actions came to light when the victim's father checked a live closed-circuit television feed of his daughter's bedroom on Aug 28 last year.

He noticed that Sri Eha Santika Sari had grabbed the toddler by her arm and thigh and swung her forcefully onto the mattress.

He confronted the maid on the spot, but she denied any wrongdoing. He later reviewed past CCTV footage, which revealed earlier instances of rough handling.

Videos played in court showed that Sri Eha Santika Sari had handled the toddler in a rough way multiple times from Aug 17 to Aug 28, 2021.

On one occasion, when the toddler sat up after finishing her milk, the maid pushed her head back down to the pillow and pulled her ear forcefully.

Another time, the toddler tried to get up while the maid was patting her to sleep. The maid pushed the toddler's head into the pillow and hit her head.

The victim suffered pain and often cried as a result of these acts, but was unable to seek help given her young age.

After the incident on Aug 28, 2021, Sri Eha Santika Sari continued to live in the flat but stopped caring for the victim.

The toddler's father eventually made a police report on Sep 26, 2021. No injuries were found when the victim was taken to the hospital the next day.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana sought eight to 10 months' jail, arguing that the toddler was an exceptionally vulnerable victim given her age.

The toddler was entirely defenceless given her inability to seek help and her gross physical disparity with the offender, said the prosecutor.

Furthermore, the maid was entrusted to care for the toddler and abused this trust when alone with her, said Ms Boppana.

Sri Eha Santika Sari asked for leniency, saying that a long sentence meant she would not be able to earn money to send her child to school.

"I admit all of my mistakes," she told the judge through an Indonesian interpreter.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam said that while no injuries were found on the toddler, the CCTV footage showed the nature of harm inflicted on her.

She noted the offences appeared to have continued with "fair regularity" over two to three weeks, and it was fortuitous the toddler's father discovered it before it could continue any longer.

The maid could have been jailed for up to 12 years. She was liable for enhanced punishment as the victim was below 14 and the proceeded charge amalgamated multiple occasions of offending.

Source: CNA/dv(zl)


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