SINGAPORE – A domestic helper who could no longer tolerate her employer’s abuse fled the latter’s apartment by climbing down 15 storeys from the unit’s balcony.
The 24-year-old Indonesian victim’s employer was Nuur Audadi Yusoff, a Singtel employee deployed to support the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Contact Centre.
Nuur Audadi had slapped Sulis Setoywati, spat at her, dragged her by her hair and poked her with various implements throughout the five months that the maid worked for her. After finding out that the maid had intentions to flee, Nuur Audadi then locked the door to the apartment.
Nuur Audadi pleaded guilty to six of 14 charges – of voluntarily causing hurt. The remaining charges and a count of committing mischief was taken into consideration for sentencing.
Sulis arrived in Singapore in mid-2017 and worked for Nuur Audadi from 1 December 2017 until 1 May 2018. She was paid $580 a month.
In January 2018, Nuur Audadi’s daughter cried after midnight one day. When she checked on her daughter, she noticed that the maid had forgotten to apply baby ointment on her daughter’s stomach.
Nuur Audadi asked Sulis why she had not done so before spitting at and slapping the helper on her face twice. She continued to scold the maid, who remained in shock.
After a few instances of such abuse, Sulis cried and asked for a transfer but agreed to continue working for Nuur Audadi when the latter promised not to hit her again. Sulis also needed the wages to support her child back home.
On 11 April 2018, Nuur Audadi brought Sulis to the MOM to make a report on her former employer, who still owed her wages. Sulis felt grateful and believed that Nuur Audadi did not “differentiate her for being a maid” at times, the prosecution said.
However, things continued going downhill for Sulis from April.
Multiple attacks led to desperate escape
That month, Nuur Audadi assaulted Sulis – on her neck – with a bunch of house keys. She told Sulis that even if she was crying, the door was locked and no one would help her.
When the maid failed to clean a motorcycle and helmet belonging to Nuur Audadi’s husband as instructed, the latter used an umbrella to hit the maid on the head and poked her stomach several times. In fact, Sulis had been unable to leave the unit to clean the motorcycle as she had forgotten to ask Nuur Audadi for the house keys. However, Nuur Audadi felt that the maid was simply making excuses.
On 21 April 2018, Nuur Audadi discovered Sulis had a mobile phone and went through the maid’s personal chats and photos. She found some photos of her children uploaded by Sulis onto Facebook.
Sulis had done so as she treated the children as her own. However, Nuur Audadi became upset and slapped the maid on her face. She then threw the phone onto the ground, cracking it. Sulis’ face bled and she cried.
Even after Nuur Audadi confiscated the mobile phone, she continued to slap Sulis and pulled her hair almost daily for a week.
At the end of that week, Sulis told Nuur Audadi that she had asked the agent for a transfer, and the latter slapped her on the face again, saying she had paid a lot of money for her.
Around 29 April 2018, Sulis managed to retrieve her mobile phone and hid it somewhere in the flat as she wanted to call the agency to ask for a transfer. When Nuur Audadi realised that she no longer had Sulis’ phone, she questioned the maid, who denied taking the phone. Angered, Nuur Audadi used a comb and poked Sulis on her forehead forcefully. She also slapping the helper and pulled her hair. She told Sulis to search for the phone until about midnight that day.
That night, Nuur Audadi made Sulis sleep in the living room, locking her room door and the main door to prevent her from fleeing.
The next day, as Sulis tidied Nuur Audadi’s bed, the employer pulled the maid’s hair and kicked her on the head a few times. She was annoyed that she could not find her ring and accused Sulis of being jealous of her jewellery.
That night, Nuur Audadi noticed that the maid’s hair was oily and dragged her by her hair to the kitchen toilet and sprayed waste on it. She then told the maid to bathe.
As Sulis prepared milk for the children later that night, Nuur Audadi called her a prostitute and accused her of flirting with her husband.
“She asked the victim if her private parts were itchy and if she wanted to seduce her husband. Not understanding the accused and having misheard, the victim replied, ‘Yes ma’am’,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En told the court.
Furious, Nuur Audadi took a broom from the living room and hit Sulis on the back of her head and her back multiple times, causing more bruises.
At about 2am, Sulis decided to escape. As the main door was locked, she climbed out of the unit from the balcony. From balcony to balcony, she went down 15 levels until she reached the ground floor.
She then left and on the guidance of her agent, lodged a police report.
DPP Chong sought more than 10 months’ imprisonment for Nuur Audadi, who will be sentenced on 18 November.
A charge of voluntarily causing hurt carries a jail term of up to two years, and/or a fine of up to $5,000. As Nuur Audadi is an employer who caused hurt to a maid under her employ, her punishment may be enhanced by up to one and a half times.
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