Justice for the Indonesian domestic worker and it has been finally served to her employer-abuser Anita Damu after the sentencing was postponed last October as Damu was rushed to hospital as she felt ill while the court was about to pass the verdict.
Photo: Screengrab from YouTube
Anita Damu, also known as Shazana Abdullah, who had pleaded guilty to five charges of maid abuse last September was sentenced to 31-month imprisonment and was ordered to pay $8,000 on top of the $4,000 she already paid as compensation for the loss of income of her maid, Siti Khodijah.
District Judge Terence Tay did not honor the psychiatric disorder alibi plead by the defense as Anita was aware of what she was doing to her maid, and knew that it was wrong. She even instructed the maid to tell a lie to the doctor regarding the causes of the injuries because if not, she would go to jail.
Twenty-nine-year old Siti Khodijah, who hails from Indonesia, was employed as a maid by Anita last October 2013, with a pay of $522 month.
She suffered different abuses for almost two years in the hands of 51-year old Anita, a wife and a mother of 4 kids.
In April 2015, the abuses were discovered after a tip-off brought the attention of Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that urged the ministry to visit the flat of Anita’s family.
Photo: Screengrab from YouTube
That very moment, they saw Siti with burn marks on her hands, bumps on her face, and scars all over her body. She was brought to Changi General Hospital where she was examined and found multiple injuries, including black eye, burn and scald marks. There were also scars and keloids on her arms and hands, evidences of the abuses she went through.
According to the prosecution, Siti suffered these abuses:
- For 15 months, she was only given 5 hours of sleep, between 11 pm and 4 am.
- Her food intake was in controlled amounts, only with breakfast and dinner. But after January 2014, Anita provided her with only lunch and dinner twice or thrice a week.
- She slept on the floor on a blanket without a mattress for most of her employment.
- She was slapped multiple times on her face and body, and later Anita inflicted her with pliers to pinch her arms and back.
- She was forced to drink hot water and was knocked on her head with a metal-pronged bamboo pole every time she commits a mistake.
- Anita splashed hot water on her back and leg, and pressed hot iron on both of her wrists in the later part of 2014.
The defense filed mitigating circumstance of mental disorder of Anita, as to why she was provoked to inflict those abuses. According to Anita’s defense lawyer R.S. Bajwa, she suffers from Major Depressive Disorder with mood-congruent psychotic features, and she has some hallucinations that she hears voices instructing her to commit the offenses.
Though the defense claimed arguments on just fines to be given as a sentence and not imprisonment, the court maintains that the nature and permanence of the severity of the injuries on the victim cannot be ignored. The prosecution, on the other hand, asked for 48 months’ jail for Anita, as what she did was “a grievous case of persistent and systematic abuse”.
As to Siti according to the prosecution: “More than two years onwards, the victim still bears two large keloids on her hands and wrists,” said the prosecution. “The emotional trauma suffered by the victim is also significant. The victim, who is still single, has real concerns that her physical deformities will be an insurmountable barrier to her desire to get married.”
Anita has intentions to appeal her sentence and as of this time, she is out on $20,000 bail.