Family tortured woman with mild intellectual disability who sought refuge with them

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·5-min read
Victim of abuse cowering in corner. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Victim of abuse cowering in corner. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — After running away from home, a woman sought refuge in the flat of her secondary school friend’s family.

Instead of safety, however, the woman – who has mild intellectual disability – found only cruelty at the hands of that family, who used pliers to twist her toes, a hammer to knock her teeth, and urinated in her food, amongst other tortures.

One of the perpetrators, a husband of one of the family members, was ordered to slap the woman after she performed some sexual acts on the husband.

The man, Egyptian Hany Aboubakr Abdelkarim Abdelfattah, was sentenced to three weeks’ jail on Tuesday (3 November) after he pleaded guilty to one of two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to the 30-year-old woman.

Victim was secondary school friends with a family member

The victim knew the family through Muhammad Isafi Ismail, her secondary school friend from 2008.

He resided with his family including his elder sister Haslinda Ismail, 34, whom Hany is married to; his mother Hasmah Sulong; his elder brother Muhammad Iswan Ismail; another elder sister Hasniza Ismail; and his brothers Muhammad Iskandar Ismail and Muhammad Iski Ismail.

The victim, who studied until her N Levels, would often visit Isafi and his family members at their flat in her free time and grew close to them. She would often run away from her home and stay with the family from mid-2011.

In early 2016, the victim ran away from home for good and moved into the family’s unit. She did not pay rent but would buy her own food, pay Hasmah $150 a month for laundry and sleep on a mat in the living room of the family’s flat.

In December 2015, Hany got a job as a sales assistant at Giant Supermarket at Woodlands Mart. The victim worked at the mall’s McDonald’s outlet, and met Hany almost every day as they would hang out in the same area.

In 2016, the victim performed some sexual acts on Hany at a staircase landing of the Woodlands Mart carpark. Haslinda came to know of the acts and confronted the victim in the kitchen back at the flat a few days later. Various members of her family, including Hany, were present then.

During the confrontation, Haslinda scolded the victim and slapped her face. Under Haslinda’s directions, Hany pointed his middle finger at the victim and slapped her twice on her face.

After the incident, Haslinda, Hasniza and Hasmah began abusing the victim, using pliers to twist her toes, a hammer to knock out her teeth, a baseball bat to hit her head and by splashing boiling water on her.

The victim was also brought by the family to Malaysia on a few occasions to help clean the family’s flat in Johor Bahru. She wore a tudung upon her return to Singapore on 28 August 2017, due to injuries inflicted by Haslinda.

As Hasmah feared that the victim might flee or seek help from an immigration officer, she eventually decided not to bring her to Malaysia anymore.

Hari Raya Haji torture

On the afternoon of 31 August 2017, the eve of Hari Raya Haji, Haslinda brought the victim to her new flat – which she had earlier moved into – to help her with the family’s Hari Raya Haji preparations.

She made the victim stand in the kitchen throughout the night until around 11am the next morning, and made sure that the victim did not sleep or use the toilet.

On 1 September, unable to control her bladder, the victim urinated on the kitchen floor. The furious Haslinda hit the victim’s body with a broomstick until it broke.

Haslinda then used a hanger and a wet towel to assault the victim, before tying up the victim’s limbs with a cable tie. She made the victim continue standing in the kitchen in her soiled trousers. Hany was present but did not intervene in the affair.

Even as the other family members arrived for the Hari Raya celebrations later that day at around 3pm, the victim remained standing in the kitchen. The other members, including Hasmah, Hasniza and Iski, observed but did nothing to help the victim.

Hasmah, who also came for the celebrations, brought two packets of hor fun for the victim but Haslinda threw one packet away and urinated into the other packet. She demanded that the victim eat the soiled hor fun and the victim complied, as she was starving.

Later, Haslinda demanded that Hany slap the victim twice and Hany did so. Haslinda released the victim from the cable ties after the rest of the family left the flat that evening. She then brought the victim back to the original flat that night.

Brought to hospital in ‘near-death state’

The victim stayed at this flat until she was brought to the hospital in a “near-death state” on 16 January 2018, according to the prosecution. No details were given of her state, however her injuries resulted in a visual disability which was noted when the victim underwent an Intelligence Quotient assessment on 20 June 2018.

At this evaluation, the victim was unable to perform tests to assess her general intellectual functioning due to her impairment as well as the variation in her performance.

The victim was examined at the Institute of Mental Health in March this year, when it was assessed that she had a mild intellectual disability since her childhood and during the time of the abuse.

The report stated that the victim’s deficits in intellectual functions such as reasoning, problems solving, planning, judgment and learning from experience would have affected her ability to seek appropriate help at the time of the alleged offences against her.

Hany’s lawyer Audrey Koo stated that her client was “genuinely remorseful and fully cooperated with police during investigations”. Koo said that the victim’s disability would not have applied to her client’s actions as the disability would not have bearing on the slaps.

She added that her client had to care for two children, one of whom has a learning disability.

The cases against Iskandar, Hasniza and Haslinda were adjourned on Tuesday due to issues with the statement of facts. Hasmah’s and Iski’s cases are still pending.

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