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Singapore

Jail for woman who abused daughters, broke child’s teeth

Jail for woman who abused daughters, broke child’s teeth

Photo illustration of a child in distress. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: A mother who abused her two daughters by slapping and kicking them on multiple occasions was sentenced to three years in jail on Wednesday (Sep 29). 

The 38-year-old housewife - who cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identities of her children - had earlier pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating her daughters, who were aged four and eight at the time of the offences. 

The abuse came to light after her husband installed a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) in their living room in December 2018, following instances where the accused had left the children alone at home. 

The 37-year-old man is the biological father of both girls. The couple also have a young son, who was not abused. 

On Jun 18, 2019, the husband of the accused came home and discovered that his eight-year-old daughter’s front teeth were broken. 

When asked what had happened, the girl told her father that her mother had slapped and kicked her, causing her mouth to bleed and her teeth to break.

The girl was then taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, though the man did not confront his wife over the incident. 

Upon viewing the CCTV footage, the man discovered his wife had violently slapped and kicked the girl. Checks of footage from previous days also revealed that she had violently assaulted both children on other occasions. 

HIT THEM "ONLY WHEN NECESSARY"

Investigations revealed that the housewife had started beating her eldest daughter while she was still in kindergarten, and the beatings had worsened in 2018 when she entered Primary 1. 

The girl said her mother would beat her “very hard”, with the abuse including slapping her multiple times on her face and using a cane to hit her, as well as kicking her and pulling her hair.

“These assaults would usually take place in the living room where the CCTV camera was installed; sometimes, the accused would pull her by her hair and drag her to the bedroom to continue the assaults away from the CCTV camera,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min. 

The girl did not tell her father about the incidents, as she was afraid her mother would find out and beat her more, said Ms Lim, adding that she did not inform her teachers either. 

CCTV footage showed that the accused had assaulted her eldest daughter in at least three other instances that month, and was alone with the children on all these occasions. 

The accused said she was disciplining her children as they were “very naughty”. She claimed to hit them “only when necessary”, and usually opted just to scold them or ask them to face the wall. 

On Jul 5, 2019, the accused was at home with all three children when she pinched her younger daughter - then aged four - multiple times and repeatedly slapped her face. 

After this incident, the two girls were temporarily taken from the home by a child protection officer from the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Child Protective Service. 

On Dec 1 that year, the accused was again at home alone with the children after her husband left to accompany his parents, who were visiting, to catch a taxi before going to a nearby shop to buy some items. 

When the man returned home, his wife told him that she had thrown a marker at the older girl in anger, leaving a bump on her forehead. 

The accused claimed then that the wound was minor and there was no need to take the girl to the doctor. 

When questioned by her father, the girl said that her mother had told her not to inform anyone about the incident. 

The man then informed the child protection officer about the assault. 

Upon discovering that the officer would be coming to their home, the accused told the eldest daughter to lie to the officer and tell her that they had been playing when a toy hit her.

The housewife later said that she had thrown the marker at her daughter as she could not cope with the girl’s complaints about her siblings. 

ONGOING ABUSE

The abuse continued earlier this year, while the woman was out on bail. 

Investigations showed that around August this year, the husband noticed the accused losing her temper and shouting at the children for no reason.

The man then viewed the CCTV recordings at his house and discovered that his wife had physically abused the two girls between March and May 2021. 

He then proceeded to alert the child protection service.

On Mar 8 this year, the accused pulled the eldest daughter’s ear and slapped her face, then used her finger to repeatedly hit the girl’s head and arm

The woman later told the investigation officer that she was disciplining the girl because she knew she was going to jail and wanted the girl to “step up and behave” before she went away.

A psychiatric evaluation by the Institute of Mental Health found the accused did not suffer from any diagnosable mental illness at the time of the offences, and does not currently suffer from any mental illness. 

The report added the “potential future risk of harsh physical punishment on children remains high” and that future interactions with children should be “strictly supervised”.

For each count of ill-treating a child, the accused could have been jailed for up to four years or fined up to S$4,000, or both.
 

Source: CNA/az(zl)

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