Maid climbed out of flat on 36th storey after abuse

File photos from The New Paper and The Straits Times.

FIVE hours after being kicked by her employer, an Indonesian maid decided she could take no more and climbed out of the 36th- storey unit where she worked.

Domestic worker Saedatun Fandilah removed the bathroom window's shutters and climbed down to the 34th storey, where a resident heard her crying for help and helped her into her flat in Teban Gardens Road.

Yesterday, the 26-year-old's employer, Tay Li Nah, 39, was jailed for four weeks for maid abuse. The housewife had pleaded guilty to kicking Ms Saedatun repeatedly on her buttocks, thighs and abdomen at about 12.30am on Feb 5 last year.

The court also heard how she had set up CCTV cameras to film her maid, who was made to work "extremely long hours" while being "deprived of physical rest".

District Judge V. Jesudevan noted the abuse was not an isolated outburst but rather a "protracted series of your displeasure".

"As adults, we must be able to contain our emotions," he said, adding that the maid had risked death by climbing out of a bathroom window.

The court had heard how Tay scolded Ms Saedatun that day for mopping the floor without sweeping it first. After telling the maid to face the wall, Tay kicked her buttocks repeatedly.

She then told her to turn around and kicked her repeatedly on her abdomen and upper thighs.

Ms Saedatun was treated in hospital for injuries. Ambulance staff alerted the police.

An investigation showed that a psychiatrist had diagnosed Tay as being depressed in 2012.

She was prescribed medication but stopped taking it. She gave up attending follow-up sessions at Raffles Hospital as she felt she was not mentally unsound.

Tay's lawyer Louis Joseph said the mother of one had voluntarily paid compensation of $3,000 to the maid.

He said Tay suffers from mental conditions, including obsessive compulsive disorder with secondary depression and acute stress reaction.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon said there was no causal link between Tay's mental condition and the offence.

Her offending behaviour, she said, had not been impulsive.

"She had in fact consciously and intentionally targeted the victim as the victim was the most vulnerable and dependent in the house.''

A government psychiatrist found that Tay's behaviour that day was a "culmination of a long campaign of emotional and physical abuse" against the maid.

Ms Poon said: "Further physical and psychological torment was inflicted on the victim because not only was she deprived of physical rest, owing to her extremely long hours of work, she never had a moment to herself because of the CCTV footage installed to monitor her.

"The accused also videoed her with her hand-held camcorder when she was sleeping on her job".

She said there were no exception reasons for the court to depart from the sentencing norm of four weeks for maid abuse cases.

Tay could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $7,500 for the offence.

This article was first published on August 27, 2014.
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