Singapore — Months after going to Singapore to become a domestic helper, one Sri Rahayu was abused in the most disgusting manner by her employers.
Ms Sri, who came from Indonesia, began working for Ooi Wei Voen and her husband Pang Chen Yong in Apr 2017.
A couple of months later, Ooi began hitting the 33-year-old for failure to complete housework to their standards, reported Channel News Asia.
Ooi would slap Ms Sri on both cheeks, hit her forehead with a fist and hit her hand with a ruler, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Qi Shuen.
“On another occasion, in order to punish the victim for failing to make sure that the laundry was dry, Ooi instructed the victim to wet her clothes and sleep in them,” Ms Goh told the court.
After hitting her, Ooi forced Ms Sri to wear a tudung to cover up her swollen forehead.
Ooi had also rubbed Ms Sri’s face with her then nine-month-old daughter’s faeces from a diaper.
The court heard that Ms Sri was also told to drink water from the toilet bowl.
The helper would follow orders as she feared getting hit.
Other abusive acts included pouring boiling water over the victim, hitting her arms with a saucepan to the point that the handle broke, and hitting her thighs with a metal ladle, causing her to faint from the pain.
Pang had also grabbed and scratched Ms Sri’s ear, making it itch and swollen.
During a mandatory six-month check-up in 2017, Ms Sri was prescribed antibiotics after the doctor spoke to Ooi and was told an unknown insect had bitten the domestic helper.
When the swelling did not subside, Ms Sri went back to the clinic and told to lie to the doctor that she had arrived in Singapore with a deformed left ear.
Ms Goh noted that “The victim was prescribed antibiotics and advised to visit a specialist for further management. However, the victim was not brought to a specialist.”
In 2018, after another episode of abuse, Ms Sri escaped and asked for help from another Indonesian domestic helper she happened to meet.
They went to a police station before going to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for medical assistance.
On Monday (Aug 30), the couple pleaded guilty to seven charges of abuse.
The prosecution sought two years and three months imprisonment for Ooi and four-and-a-half months for Pang.
The couple had released frustrations on a vulnerable victim without a mobile phone and means to seek help, said Ms Goh.
They also had taken extra considerations to hide Ms Sri’s injuries.
The court heard that Ooi suffered from major depressive disorder linked to giving birth, which was connected to her offences.
Meanwhile, Pang also suffered from major depressive disorder, causing him to react impulsively to stress.
However, reports noted that these were not proven to have substantially contributed to the abusive behaviour, as they had targeted only one individual.
It was mentioned by the couple’s lawyer, Mervyn Tan of Anthony Law Corporation, that they had tried to treat Ms Sri as a part of the family and included her when they dined out, and also allowed her to take care of their children.
Principal district judge Toh Han Li highlighted that the couple’s condition did not lessen their responsibility as employers, adding unsatisfaction with her performance should not lead to abuse.
Ooi and Pang were sentenced to twenty and four months imprisonment, respectively.
Pang began his sentence on Monday, while Ooi’s was deferred to Jan 3 to allow her to take care of the children. /TISG
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