SINGAPORE: A woman abused her domestic helper over several months, locking her in the flat and on one occasion slapping her until her face bled, prompting the woman to climb down 15 storeys to escape.
Nuur Audadi Yusoff, 31, pleaded guilty on Monday (Sep 28) to six charges of voluntarily causing hurt to a maid, with another nine charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that Nuur Audadi and her family hired the victim, a 24-year-old Indonesian national, as a foreign domestic worker from Dec 1, 2017 to May 1, 2018. The helper was paid S$580 a month.
The abuse began about one month after the helper began working for Nuur Audadi.
On one occasion in January 2018, Nuur Audadi was woken up by her daughter's crying at night, and realised that the victim had forgotten to apply baby ointment. She questioned the victim why she did not do so, before spitting at her and slapping her face twice.
In the weeks after this, Nuur Audadi swung a glass cup cover at the helper for not preparing breakfast, dragged the victim by her hair into the bathroom for not showering the children, and dragged her by the hair for singing to the kids.
The victim cried and asked for a transfer as she was abused, scolded frequently and occasionally spat on, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En.
Nuur Audadi promised not to hit her again, and the victim continued to work as she needed to send home money for her child.
On Apr 11, 2018, Nuur Audadi took the victim to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to make a report against her former employer for owed wages. The victim felt grateful to her for this, the court heard.
ABUSE CONTINUED DESPITE HER PROMISE
However, the abuse continued. On Apr 21, 2018, Nuur Audadi discovered that the victim had a mobile phone and scrolled through her chats and photos.
When Nuur Audadi discovered photos of her children uploaded on Facebook, she grew upset and used the phone to slap the victim on her face.
The victim's face turned red and began bleeding.
Nuur Audadi confiscated the phone, and in the week that followed would slap the victim and pull her hair almost daily.
At the end of the week, the victim told Nuur Audadi that she had asked her agent for a transfer. Nuur Audadi slapped her face again, saying she had paid a lot of money to hire her.
The victim later retrieved her confiscated phone from Nuur Audadi's bedroom and hid it as she wanted to call her maid agency.
When Nuur Audadi discovered that the phone was missing from her bedroom, she used a comb to poke the victim on her forehead. The helper denied taking the phone and Nuur Audadi told her to search for it until midnight.
That night, Nuur Audadi made the victim sleep in the living room. She also locked both the victim's room door and the main door of the flat to prevent the helper from running away.
The next day, the abuse continued, with Nuur Audadi pulling the victim's hair and kicking her head. Later that night, as Nuur Audadi was pulling the victim's hair, she felt it was oily and dragged the maid by the hair into the kitchen where she sprayed water on it and told her to bathe.
Later on in the same day, Nuur Audadi felt that the helper was taking too much time to prepare milk for her children and questioned her.
She also asked the victim if she "was a prostitute and was flirting with her husband", court documents said. She then hit the victim with a broom multiple times, while scolding her for "being a prostitute".
VICTIM DECIDES TO ESCAPE, CLIMBS DOWN BALCONY BY BALCONY
After this incident, the victim decided to escape the locked flat.
At about 2am on May 1, 2018, the helper climbed out onto the balcony and got to her room, where she collected some of her things.
She threw her clothes out of the flat before climbing down 15 storeys of the building, lowering herself balcony by balcony until she reached the ground floor.
"The climb took her all of early morning," said the prosecutor. She later lodged a police report after turning to her agent for help.
She sought treatment at a hospital for the bruises on her face from being slapped, abrasions on her flank and pain on her head from having her hair pulled.
The victim stayed with the Indonesian embassy thereafter and remains scared of Nuur Audadi to this day, the court heard.
The prosecutor asked for upwards of 10 months' jail, calling this a case of "vicious abuse".
"Unsatisfied with the escalating and gratuitous violence she was inflicting on the victim ... the accused decided to lock the victim in the unit. Desperate to escape her abuser, the victim risked her life and climbed down 15 storeys in the dead of the night," he said.
He said the injuries inflicted were a combination of physical and psychological harm, with the accused being triggered "by the flimsiest of excuses to fly into a rage".
Other than the physical abuse, Nuur Audadi demeaned the victim by calling her a prostitute, violated her privacy by going through her phone and telling her that no one would hear her cries after cutting her with a key.
Mr Chong added that while Nuur Audadi has pleaded guilty, she did so only a week from the trial. She will return to court in November for sentencing.
For each charge of voluntarily causing hurt, Nuur Audadi can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both. As the offences were against a domestic maid, the penalties may be increased up to one-and-a-half times of the maximum.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said the accused was a former Ministry of Manpower customer service officer, which is how she was described in court documents. The Attorney-General’s Chambers has since clarified that she was a Singtel employee deployed to support the MOM contact centre, and was not an MOM officer.