SINGAPORE — A woman who forced a domestic helper to do squats when she appeared sleepy and assaulted her over "poor" work performance was jailed for nine weeks on Thursday (26 August).
Nurhuda Osman, 38, was a stewardess when she abused the maid, a 34-year-old Indonesian who came to work in Singapore in 2017.
Nurhuda pleaded guilty to one count of causing hurt to the maid, with another count taken into consideration for her sentencing. She has since resigned from her position as a cabin crew member.
She employed the maid and paid her $590 a month. The maid started work for Nurhuda's family in January 2018 and was tasked to look after her employer's three daughters, then aged two, seven and 15, and do household chores. She started her day at 5.30am and would end work around 11pm at the flat in Geylang.
After the maid began working, Nurhuda found her a slow worker and was unhappy with her performance. She would scold the maid and at times ask the victim to do squats when she appeared sleepy.
On 12 June 2019, while in the flat, Nurhuda asked the maid to iron some clothes. As the maid did so in the living room, Nurhuda scolded her and pushed the ironing board so that it landed on her right foot. Despite the maid crying from the pain, Nurhuda punched her left arm and left eye. She instructed the maid to wash up in the toilet.
A day later, Nurhuda and her family left Singapore for a holiday and were due to return on 16 June 2019. Initially, the victim was too afraid to use the house phone to call the police for help as she thought that Nurhuda would scold her.
She eventually reported the abuse to the police on 15 June 2019. She called the police hotline and said, "I am being beaten by the employer till my eyes are bruised. The employer is overseas now."
She was conveyed to Changi General Hospital the same day and found to have bruising and tenderness over her body.
Nurhuda voluntarily compensated the maid $3,450, which was six months of the maid's salary. The employer made additional compensation of $1,000 to the maid for her pain and suffering on 21 June this year.
District Judge Marvin Bay noted Nurhuda's "rather contemptuous treatment of the victim" by making her do squats when she looked sleepy.
"While (the defence lawyer) has emphasised that the accused also performed squats as an exercise, this seemed to be a form of punishment in the victim's case, given the history of scolding and disapproval of her perceived poor work performance," noted the judge.
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 an employer who caused hurt to a maid under her employment, Nurhuda's punishment could have been enhanced by up to two times.
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