SINGAPORE — A woman who viciously abused her family’s maid was jailed 15 months on Tuesday (19 November).
Jenny Chan Yun Hui, had punched and fractured Indonesian domestic worker Rasi’s nose. She also pinched Rasi’s ears and hit her head until they both bled. Despite the injuries inflicted, Chan did not seek medical help for the 27-year-old and only applied ointment to the latter’s wounds.
Chan also forbade Rasi, who goes by a single name, from using any phones and speaking to neighbours.
In mitigation, Chan’s lawyer Gary Low said his client paid Rasi a total of $12,330 in compensation, which “reflected her sincere and profound remorse for her transgressions”. He added that two psychiatrists had found Chan’s major depressive disorder to be a contributing factor in her abusive behaviour.
On the maid being banned from using the phone, the defence lawyer said it was part of her general working conditions, and not to prevent the maid from reporting Chan’s offences.
The prosecution, however, argued that Rasi’s working conditions had been “oppressive”, noting that her strict work schedule prevented her from getting enough rest and that she was under close surveillance throughout the day. She was also cut off from communications with the outside world, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelly Ho.
Chan had also threatened that Rasi would be jailed if she left the house and also played on the latter’s fear of being separated from her son, said the DPP.
In sentencing the 41-year-old, who is married with two children, District Judge Eddy Tham said the nature of the beatings Rasi sustained were “severe and prolonged” and that the injuries were inflicted upon vulnerable body parts.
The judge added that clear psychological harm had been to Rasi and that her distress was exacerbated by her isolation.
Even though Chan was going through a stressful time and had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, her actions cannot be excused, said the judge.
“After causing suffering to the victim, the accused would have realised the seriousness after each assault... yet she did not seek help or do anything to help (her) violent behaviour,” added DJ Tham.
Until the victim plucked up the courage to escape from her situation, there was no sign that the violence would have abated on Chan’s own volition, said the judge, who also considered that Chan’s psychiatric condition would be affected by a jail term and separation from her two young children.
Rained abuse on the victim
Chan had earlier admitted to two counts of voluntarily causing hurt and one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Rasi.
Rasi began working for Chan’s family in February 2016. Her work followed a strict schedule with her chores beginning at 6am. Chan would also monitor Rasi’s movements throughout the day via CCTV cameras inside the family’s flat.
Lacking rest, Rasi often fell asleep during her chores, which angered Chan, who began physically assaulting Rasi between April and 20 June 2016.
On several occasions, Chan would punch Rasi in the eye for not finishing morning chores.
During one incident, Chan hit the back of Rasi’s hand as she cleaned the kitchen floor. She also smacked the back of Rasi’s head with a plastic bowl, drawing blood. She later applied medicated oil on Rasi’s head.
At some point, Rasi decided to flee as she could no longer tolerate the assaults. However, she decided to clean the toilet before leaving.
Before she could finish the job, Chan returned home and asked why Rasi had not cleaned the bedroom first. Rasi then replied that she intended to leave the flat for good.
Chan became infuriated with Rasi and hit her once again before ordering her to clean the floor. She then gave Rasi some medication.
Chan also warned Rasi that if she fled, the police would be called in and Rasi would be jailed for 20 years. This caused Rasi to fear that she would never see her son again.
Later that same day, when Rasi fell asleep while cleaning the bedroom, Chan pinched her ears with her fingernails, causing Rasi’s ears to bleed.
Chan also punched Rasi’s face until her left eye was so swollen that she lost vision in it for about 30 minutes. Chan later treated Rasi’s injury with cotton wool and medicated oil but did not take her to a doctor.
On another occasion, Chan became angry with Rasi when the latter woke up late. Chan then punched Rasi’s nose several times, and did not stop even when Rasi said she was unable to breathe through her nose. Rasi sustained a right nasal bone fracture from the incident.
Court documents stated that Chan’s other charges included pinching and grabbing Rasi by her arms and dragging her out of the room by her hair. She also punched Rasi twice between her eyes, slapped her thrice and kicked her twice in the back of her head.
On 19 June 2016, Rasi managed to speak to a neighbour’s domestic helper while at the balcony of her employer’s flat. The other maid advised Rasi to take a taxi to the Indonesian Embassy for help. Rasi did so on 20 June. She was then hospitalised for the next two days.
Among other injuries, Rasi was found to have suffered bruises on her head and around her eyes; patch of lost hair; abrasions on her ears, arms and chest; a swollen face; and a nasal bone fracture as well as pinch marks on her arms.
For voluntarily causing hurt, Chan could have been jailed up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both on each count. For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, she could have been jailed up to 10 years, as well as fined, caned or both.
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