SINGAPORE — A domestic helper vented her stress on a one-month-old baby by hitting his back thrice, triggering the baby’s cries.
Lana Ngizatul Mona, 26, was jailed for nine months on Wednesday (21 October), after pleading guilty to one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act for her physical abuse of the baby.
Lana, an Indonesian and mother to a six-year-old, had been hired by the baby’s mother two months before the incident. She was tasked to care for the baby – born on 8 March this year – and his three siblings, as well as handle household chores.
The male baby and his mother cannot be named due to a gag order on their identities.
On 30 April, the mother was in a bedroom when she heard her baby crying loudly from the living room. The cries prompted the mother to check the CCTV camera installed in the living room.
She found that, at around 7.37am, the domestic helper was seated at the dining table and feeding the baby milk while carrying him in her arms. At one point, she hit the baby on the back with her wrist, prompting the baby to cry immediately.
In video footage played in court, the maid was seen feeding the baby milk again before hitting him quickly on the back with her fist twice. This caused the baby to bawl again.
Lana admitted to hitting the baby to vent her stress.
The mother brought her son to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital for a medical examination on the same day, and the baby was found with a bruise over his right shoulder, as a result of Lana’s blows. The mother lodged a police report that same day.
Prosecution cites baby’s vulnerability for sentence length
The prosecution sought at least nine months’ jail for Lana, citing the vulnerability of the baby, who could not fend for himself.
“Caretakers like the accused must know that any acts of ill treatment will be punished heavily when they are entrusted with trust both by the victim in caring for them as well as the victim’s parents,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei, who noted that the penalty for Lana’s charge had been doubled at the start of the year.
“Such offences are often difficult to detect because of intimacy of relationship, and when it takes place in a household setting which other persons are not privy to.”
In mitigation, Lana, who was unrepresented, said that she had a six-year-old child to care for and that she was remorseful. Speaking through an interpreter, Lana pleaded for a light sentence in order to return to her family.
For a charge of ill treating a child, Lana could have been jailed up to eight years and/or fined up to $8,000.
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