SINGAPORE: Soon after hiring a new domestic helper, a woman began abusing her, slapping her cheek and hitting her 11 times with a ruler when her son's diapers were not changed.
The victim ran away from the flat and sought help from the Ministry of Manpower less than two months after starting this job, which was her first in Singapore.
The employer, 34-year-old Meenashi Sanjay Kumar Singh, was sentenced on Wednesday (Aug 19) to four months' jail.
She pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to a maid, with two other charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that the victim, 30-year-old Indonesian Sherley Medya, began working for Meenashi in early September 2018.
Soon after the victim began her employment, Meenashi began abusing her physically, due to her perceived "poor performance".
These actions form the charges taken into consideration - for an instance of abuse on a night in October 2018, when Meenashi slapped the victim's cheeks, pulled her hand, pushed her chest and caused her head to hit a door.
The second instance was on Nov 15, 2018, when Meenashi used a ruler to hit the victim's cheek several times and slapped her cheek and lips with her hand.
The breaking point was on Nov 16, 2018, when the victim fetched Meenashi's younger son home after taking the older boy to school.
Meenashi began reprimanding the victim for failing to change the younger boy's diapers.
She told the maid to hand her a wooden ruler, before using it to hit the victim at least 11 times on her arm and hand.
Meenashi's assault was captured on her closed-circuit television camera installed in the living room, and she left the flat shortly after.
At about 2pm that day, the victim decided to run away. She packed her belongings and sought help from MOM, with the police subsequently alerted.
The maid went to the hospital the next day, with bruises on her face and knee, abrasions on her lip, tenderness on her shoulder, wrist and knee.
She was given outpatient sick leave for two days and discharged with medication.
SHE TREATED VICTIM LIKE CHILD: PROSECUTOR
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mark Yeo asked for at least four months' jail, saying that Meenashi had treated the victim like a child, someone who needed to be "disciplined", and not like an adult employee.
"Additionally, the accused’s physical abuse against the victim began not long after the victim first began working for the accused," said Mr Yeo.
"The abuse inflicted upon the victim affected her to the point that she felt compelled to escape from the accused’s home. The psychological and emotional impact that the abuse had on the victim cannot be understated, and should be considered as an aggravating factor."
The defence lawyer said his client had a clean record, adding that the injuries were "relatively minor".
Her younger son had urinary problems that could have led to kidney problems, and doctors had repeatedly told Meenashi that his genitalia area had to be kept absolutely clean because of possible infections and complications.
Meenashi had stressed this repeatedly to the victim and even asked the maid agent to speak to her about this, said the lawyer.
He added that the victim had not been locked up and was free to leave, which she did eventually.
The judge granted a deferment of the sentence to Aug 24, so Meenashi could attend a parent-teacher meeting and spend the weekend with her children.
For voluntarily causing hurt, she could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both. As the offence was against a maid, the maximum penalties could have gone up to one-and-a-half times that of the original.