Monday, 30 Nov 2020

Over 10 months' jail for woman whose maid climbed down 15 storeys to escape abuse

SINGAPORE – A woman who repeatedly abused her family’s Indonesian domestic helper, before the victim fled by climbing down 15 storeys through a balcony, has been sentenced to 10 months and two weeks’ jail.

Between January and April 2018, Nuur Audadi Yusoff tormented Ms Sulis Setyowati, 24, multiple times, including by slapping her face and pulling her hair.

In passing sentence on Wednesday (Nov 18), District Judge Ronald Gwee said that the physical and mental harm Nuur caused “speak for themselves”.

He also noted that Ms Sulis risked her life to escape the “torture”. The judge said that a deterrent sentence was necessary to send a message that such acts of cruelty are not acceptable.

The court heard that Nuur gave Ms Sulis more than $7,000 as compensation a few days ago.

The 31-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty in September to six counts of assault. Nine other charges, mainly for similar offences, were considered during sentencing.

At the time of the offences, Nuur was a Singtel employee deployed to support a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) contact centre.

Ms Sulis started working in Nuur’s Yishun flat in December 2017. Sometime after midnight the following month, Nuur was awakened by her daughter’s cries and found that Ms Sulis had forgotten to apply ointment on the child’s stomach.

Nuur then spat at the maid and slapped her twice on the face. The abuse continued in February 2018 with acts such as dragging the maid by her hair.

When Ms Sulis requested a transfer, Nuur promised not to hit her again. But the abuse resumed on April 21 that year after she scrolled through Ms Sulis’ mobile phone. Nuur found that the maid had uploaded pictures of her children on Facebook.

“The accused was upset at the photos. She was angry and slapped the victim on her face with the phone and with her hand several times before throwing the phone to the ground, causing it to crack. The victim’s face was bleeding and there was redness. She cried,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En.

The court heard that Nuur confiscated the device and assaulted the maid almost daily for about a week after the incident.

On April 29 that year, Ms Sulis managed to retrieve her mobile phone and hid it as she wanted to call her agency to ask for a transfer.

When Nuur realised that the phone was missing, she confronted the maid, who denied taking it.

Nuur used a comb to forcefully poke Ms Sulis’ forehead, bruising it. She also slapped the younger woman and pulled her hair.

That night, Nuur made Ms Sulis sleep in the living room. She locked the door of the maid’s room and the flat’s front door to prevent her from escaping.

Ms Sulis was sitting on the floor the next day when Nuur pulled her hair and kicked her head a few times before leaving for work.

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When Nuur returned home that evening, she called Ms Sulis a “prostitute”.

Nuur also asked the maid if she wanted to seduce her husband and became angry when the maid misheard her and replied: “Yes, ma’am.”

Nuur then used a broom to repeatedly strike the maid’s head and back.

Ms Sulis decided to run away at around 2am the next day and escaped through the balcony as the front door was locked.

The DPP said: “She climbed down 15 storeys, clambering down balcony by balcony, before she managed to reach the ground floor. The climb took her all of early morning.”

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On the advice of her agent, she lodged a police report that afternoon, said the DPP.

Ms Sulis later went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where she was diagnosed with bruises and wounds.

For each count of maid abuse, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.

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