Maid abused 8 months, makes desperate escape from 3rd-storey flat

SINGAPORE - She was punched and slapped violently.

Why? Because she ate four slices of bread.

On another occasion, she was hit so hard on the head that she felt giddy.

Why? Because she did not know how to use the milk bottle steamer.

In eight months with her employers in 2012, Indonesian maid Yulianti was physically abused, made to sleep on a carpet at night and was allowed to bathe only once every three days.

She went from 64kg to 44kg - a loss of 20kg.

Unable to take any more punishment, she made a dangerous escape by climbing out of her employers' third-storey HDB flat at Edgefield Plains in Punggol in August that year.

On Thursday, her employers - married couple Nuraini Hassan and Muhamad Al-Hafiz Nordin, both 30 - pleaded guilty to a total of nine charges of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Yulianti.

The court heard that an employment agency had arranged for Ms Yulianti, then 32, to work for Nuraini and Muhamad Al-Hafiz - who have a son, two, and daughter, four - on Jan 10, 2012.

Ms Yulianti, who had never worked in Singapore before, had also agreed to work for them for two years and receive $450 a month. She was also willing not to have any days off, but would receive an additional $20 each month.

She was the family's second maid and was able to converse with them effectively in Malay.

Her duties included taking care of the couple's daughter, but she was not required to prepare meals for the family.

She was given a spare room which was converted into a karaoke room, where she slept on the carpet on the floor.

For the first month, everything went well. But from February, Ms Yulianti's life became a living hell.

Abuse starts over 'dirty' rag

Sometime in April 2012 at about 9.30pm, the couple's daughter spilt water on the living room floor.

Ms Yulianti then grabbed a rag which was used to clean the family cat's cage, rinsed it and used it to wipe the water off the floor.

But on seeing what happened, Nuraini, who was working as a customer relationship officer, scolded her maid for doing so, as the rag would "dirty the floor tiles".

It was at this point that Muhamad Al-Hafiz, a banquet manager with Resorts World Sentosa, returned home. When his wife told him what happened, he scolded Ms Yulianti again and slapped her once on the left side of her face.

Ms Yulianti then asked him not to hit her again, and he promised he would not do so in future.

But he did not keep his word.

Four slices of bread

It was the eve of Ms Yulianti's 33rd birthday on July 23, 2012, and Nuraini was cooking bee hoon at about 7pm.

She then told her maid that the food was for her.

At about 10pm, Ms Yulianti was hungry and ate the bee hoon.

As it was during the Ramadan period, the family was up at 3am the next day to prepare for the fast.

It was then that Ms Yulianti told Nuraini that she was hungry.

But her employer said she had not prepared any more food for her as the bee hoon was meant for her to eat before the fast.

Unable to bear the hunger, Ms Yulianti went to the kitchen at 5am and ate four slices of bread.

She then waited for Nuraini to wake up, before informing her employer about the bread. She also offered to pay for the food.

But on hearing this, Nuraini scolded the victim, punched and slapped her face and kicked her in the stomach.

Stained bottle steamer

Ms Yulianti was in the kitchen doing her chores on Aug 5, 2012, when Muhamad Al-Hafiz walked in to check on her. He then told her there was a stain in the baby milk bottle steamer, and that she had not cleaned it.

Even though Ms Yulianti was not taught to operate the steamer, which was always used by Nuraini, she did not explain this to him and merely apologised.

Muhamad Al-Hafiz then hit his maid's head twice with his right palm, leaving her giddy and in pain. She then started crying, and said she was in pain.

But he replied: "So like that good, right?"

He then left the kitchen.

Hair on floor

A day later, Ms Yulianti was sweeping the living room floor when Nuraini started scolding her for dropping her hair on the floor.

Nuraini also punched her maid on both sides of her face, scratching her in the process.

Breaking point

The abuse continued on Aug 7, 2012, and this time, Ms Yulianti was again slapped on the face and kicked in the stomach at about noon.

But she could no longer take it.

At about 1.30pm, while Nuraini was asleep, the maid decided to make a bold escape through the window at the service balcony.

Balancing precariously on the third-storey ledge, she gripped the wall partition and glided down to the ledge on the second storey. From there, she leapt to the ground floor, suffering abrasions on her left arm.

She then boarded a taxi to her employment agency, where a customer service officer and manager assisted her in making a police report.

The staff from the agency also noted that Ms Yulianti was 44kg in August, down from 64kg when she started working for the couple in January.

The court heard that Nuraini allowed Ms Yulianti to bathe only once every three days as she felt her maid had wasted too much water in washing clothes with the washing machine.

On Thursday, Nuraini pleaded guilty to six charges of voluntarily causing hurt, two of which are taken into consideration.

Meanwhile, Muhamad Al-Hafi pleaded guilty to three similar charges, one of which is taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Clement Chen asked for a deterrent custodial sentence.

The couple will appear in court again on April 4 for mitigation and sentencing.

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