SINGAPORE — Upset with a domestic helper for failing to keep her son’s diaper clean, a woman told the Indonesian to hand her a wooden ruler, which she then used to hit the maid more than 10 times on her arm and hand.
Meenashi Sanjay Kumar Singh’s lawyer told the court that his client’s younger son, who is three, was ailing from urinary problems and had to have his genital area kept clean at risk of kidney issues.
Meenashi, 34, had often stressed to Sherley Medya, 30, the importance of keeping her son’s diaper area clean, lest it led to infections and health complications.
The maid had began working for Meenashi – her first employer in Singapore – since early September 2018. Three months into her employment, the maid failed to care for the boy appropriately, prompting Meenashi’s anger.
For her abuse of Sherley, Meenashi was jailed four months on Wednesday (19 August) on one count of voluntarily causing hurt, which she pleaded guilty to.
Another two charges of the same nature were taken into consideration for sentencing. These relate to incidents in October 2018 when Meenashi slapped the maid’s cheeks, pulled her hand and pushed her chest, causing Sherley to hit the master bedroom door.
Fled from employer, sought MOM assistance
On 15 November 2018, Meenashi used a ruler to hit Sherley’s left cheek several times, and slapped her cheek and lips with her hand.
The next day, at about 8am, Sherley returned to the flat with Meenashi’s younger son after sending her older son to school. Meenashi then called the maid into the living room and scolded her for failing to change her son’s diapers.
She told Sherley to hand her a wooden ruler, which she then used to hit the maid on her arm and hand at least 11 times, before leaving the flat. Her assault was captured on CCTV camera installed in her living room.
At about 2pm that same day, Sherley packed her belongings and fled from the unit. She sought assistance from the Ministry of Manpower, and the ministry subsequently informed the police.
On 17 November 2018, Sherley visited a hospital, where she was found with bruises on her face, knee, abrasions on her lip, and tenderness on her shoulder, wrist and knee. She was given sick leave for two days.
Lawyers urge for leniency
Meenashi’s lawyer told the court that the incident arose after Sherley brought the child out, against his mother’s instructions.
“Doctors had repeatedly told Meenashi that her son’s genital area had to be kept absolutely clean as it could lead very quickly to infection and complications and she had stressed this to helper repeatedly and even asked agent to speak to helper about this,” said the defence lawyer. However Sherley was unable to fulfil this requirement.
On the day of the incident, the mother had told Sherley to leave her son at home, as she wanted to change his diaper, yet the maid still brought the boy out. By the time she returned, his diaper and clothes were soiled and leaking, said the lawyer.
“I urge (your honour) to consider a mother’s position faced with this and she reacted in the way she did. She knows it is not an excuse for what she did… I submit it was an expectation that could be expected from any employer,” he said.
Urging for leniency, the lawyer added that Sherley was not locked up and free to leave the house if she wanted to. Any psychological harm Sherley suffered from was also inferential, as she had not submitted a statement on it.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mark Yeo contended that psychological harm was caused to Sherley because of the nature of Meenashi’s assault, which was “calculated to reinforce the offender’s authority and oppress and bully the victim into submission”.
Arguing for at least four months’ jail for Meenashi, Yeo stressed, “The accused instructed the victim to bring a wooden ruler to her which is the same ruler used to physically assault her... (It was) essentially treating the victim like someone who needed to be disciplined, and not quite different from a parent disciplining a child, not as an adult employee and this behaviour reinforced her position of authority over the victim.”
After Meenashi was sentenced, her lawyer sought to have her sentence begin on 24 August as his client will be attending a parent-teacher meeting for her elder son on Friday and wants to spend the weekend with her children.
For causing hurt to a maid under her employ, Meenashi could have been jailed up to three years, and/or fined up to $7,500.
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