Housewife who caused maid's head to hit toilet wall jailed 13 months

Wan Ting Koh
Singapore’s State Courts. (FILE PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

She pushed the maid’s head against a toilet wall, leaving behind bloody stains, and also hit her with a shower head.

On an earlier occasion, housewife Rospidah Tukiman, 45, also poked her Indonesian domestic helper Tumijah’s hand with a fork.

For her assaults, Rospidah was jailed 13 months and ordered to pay compensation of $3,500 on Friday (21 September). She was convicted on two charges of voluntarily causing hurt while acquitted of three charges involving using force on another Indonesian maid after a trial.

Her lawyer, Amolat Singh, said that Rospidah intends to appeal against her conviction and sentence.

According to the prosecution, Tumijah, the 31-year-old helper, was employed by Rospidah in February 2012. She worked seven days a week cleaning, cooking, washing, and caring for Rospidah’s children.

On 13 February 2016, as Tumijah was accompanying one of Rospidah’s daughters to her piano class at a community centre, the girl fell on the escalator and injured her leg.

Two days later, Rospidah found out about the incident and became angry with Tumijah for keeping mum about it. She was also infuriated by Tumijah for not giving lunch to her daughter, and buying the wrong lunch. Tumijah testified during the trial that Rospidah scolded her and pulled her from the living room to the bathroom.

While in the bathroom, Rospidah twice pushed Tumijah and caused her head to hit the wall. The impact left bloodstains from Tumijah’s head injury on the wall.

Rospidah then tried to hit Tumijah with a showerhead but the latter blocked it. She then told Tumijah to clean up the blood and take a shower to wash off her injury.

The next day, Tumijah fled the flat at about 7am when the main door was unlocked. She hesitated about whether to report the offence outside the Bukit Panjang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) as she feared being hit by Rospidah again.

The police officer on duty at the time later testified during the trial that Tumijah stood outside the NPC looking frightened. He reported the case and Tumijah was conveyed to the hospital.

Tumijah also testified that some time in 2015, she made a mistake in preparing meals, prompting Rospidah to poke her left arm with a fork. The incident left visible scars on the maid’s arm.

Arguing for six months for his client, the lawyer said that the physical harm caused to Tumijah regarding the charge with the fork was minor. As for the other offence committed in the toilet, he argued that the physical and psychological harm caused to the maid was moderate.

The lawyer added that Rospidah did not prevent Tumijah from seeking help and did not commit the assault out of “cold-blooded malice or vengefulness” but out of a “spontaneous lapse of self control”.

The prosecution, however, called for Rospidah to be jailed 18 months, citing the pschological harm done to Tumijah. Rospidah had withheld Tumijah’s salary for years, putting Tumijah in an “even more vulnerable position than most domestic workers”, said the prosecution.

Even after Tumijah’s first contract ended in January 2014, no salary was paid to Tumijah.

“Together with threats of blacklisting her and giving her poor performance appraisals, this allowed Rospidah to build an environment of acquiescence,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yang Ziliang. This oppression was shown by how Tumijah returned to work for Rospidah even after the fork incident, as she wanted to be paid.

Rospidah was also not remorseful, as seen by how she put Tumijah through the trial and “cast aspersions on (the maid’s) character by accusing her of making false allegations” to shorten her contract.

Rospidah had even tried to prevent Tumijah from testifying by having her husband make a trip to Tumijah’s home to offer her money, added the DPP.

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