A Singaporean woman has been handed a 15-month jail term for abusing her Indonesian domestic help for over eight months, beating her and in one case making her hit herself in the mouth with a meat pounder.
Mun Sau Yeng, 41, pleaded guilty to voluntarily hurting the worker during the course of her one year of employment.
According to Today Online, the Indonesian domestic help started working with Mun from 2018 and was abused several times over a range of petty issues related to the employer’s demands for “excessive cleaning”.
Mun’s defence lawyer told the court that her client suffered depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at the time and asked the court to reduce her jail term to one year.
Detailing her abuse, the Indonesian woman told the court that the woman hit her with the floor nozzle of a vacuum cleaner and punched her head, just two months into the job.
In 2018, Mun punched her on the face several times before telling her to punch herself on the cheeks for about 50 times because she ate a can of sardines. The victim obliged and her faced got bruised for days.
“The accused was of the view that the victim would remember the pain better if the victim punched herself,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng said.
”The accused did not take the victim to see a doctor as she was aware that what she did was wrong. In addition, she instructed the victim to tilt her head down for the rest of the day as she wanted to prevent her husband from seeing the victim’s injuries,“ he added.
Detailing another incident, the court was told the woman asked the maid to hit herself on the mouth until her teeth dropped out because she noticed fingerprints on the kitchen windows. The victim gave in after pleading several times and repeatedly hit herself.
She then instructed her to strike herself with a meat pounder. Despite her attempts, her teeth did not come out but three of her lower teeth became loose.
“Seeing that no teeth had dropped, Mun took the meat pounder, pulled down the victim’s lower lip and struck it once, chipping off one of her teeth,” Today Online reported.
The abuse continued as the victim was not able to escape her employer. The victim eventually sought help from Centre for Domestic Employees, which was formed to help distressed workers, and a police case was registered against the woman.
This is not the first such incident that was reported in Singapore, where foreign domestic helpers can be hired through both registered and unregistered employment agencies with little oversight.
In February, a 40-year-old Singaporean woman was charged for “heinously” abusing and starving her house help. The worker was reduced to a weight of 24kg when she was found dead in 2016, with her autopsy detailing bent bones, fractures and scars.