SINGAPORE — She called her stepson a “prostitute’s child” and tore up his Good Conduct Award, claiming that the boy did not deserve it.
The demeaning remarks were not the only form of abuse that the 43-year-old woman subjected her stepson, then 11 years old, to. She also slapped him on the cheeks and hit him on the head with a mug, and hit him on the nose, on separate occasions – drawing blood with each act of violence.
The Singaporean woman, who cannot be named due to a gag order, pleaded guilty to three charges of ill-treating a child on Tuesday (1 September), with two similar charges to be taken into consideration when she is sentenced.
The woman lived with her stepson, his father – whom she was married to – and her biological daughter at a public housing flat.
The abuse occurred as early as November 2016, when the boy placed an empty plate in the sink after finishing his meal. A while later, the woman called him to the kitchen and asked him to wash the plate, telling him, “you think I am your maid is it”. While he did as instructed, the woman hit the back of his head with a ceramic mug, causing him to bleed.
When she realised the wound was bleeding, the woman brought the boy to the toilet to wash it and informed her husband about the incident. The boy was brought to a hospital where his three scalp lacerations were treated. No police report was lodged then, as the woman apologised and promised not to hit the boy again.
However, she did not keep her word. On 19 May 2017, she slapped the boy a few times on his face after he failed to recall an English test question. The boy felt dizzy and heard a ringing sound in his head. He also tasted blood in his mouth. He was brought to a relative’s home the next day and his paternal aunt lodged a police report after observing his injuries.
The aunt decided to report the matter as it was not the first time the boy had been abused by his stepmother.
Intervention not successful
During investigations, the stepmother was called in to provide a police statement. However, the victim told the police that he loved his stepmother and did not wish for her to be charged in court.
Instead, the family was referred to the Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre, at the intervention of the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The family was placed on the “Safe and Strong Families” (SSF) programme in October 2017.
But the family left the programme before it was completed. The woman did not co-operate with SSF workers and remained insistent that the victim was wrong and deserved the discipline, the prosecution told the court.
Between May 2017 and June 2018, the woman used demeaning insults on the victim, calling him a “prostitute’s child” and tearing up his Good Conduct Award, justifying that he did not deserve it.
She returned to inflicting violence on the child on 20 July 2018, after the boy lied that he had cleaned up the kitchen toilet and swept the floor at her instruction, despite not doing so. Upset, the woman punched the boy on the nose, causing it to bleed.
Seven days later, when the woman was informed that her stepson failed to attend remedial classes in school, she became angry and slapped him face repeatedly. She then hit his face and arms with a bag and punched his upper arm. The boy sustained bruises and cuts on his body as a result.
His teacher noticed his injuries at school and reported the matter to the vice-principal. When the vice-principal spoke to the boy, the boy told him that there was “nothing wrong” with what his stepmother had done.
The boy was taken to the hospital on 30 July 2018, where he was treated for scratches, bruises and abrasions.
The woman will return to court for her mitigation and sentencing on 6 October.
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