Woman who hit maid jailed for seven weeks

SINGAPORE - A sales associate abused her maid so badly that it left her suffering from psychological problems.

Woo Wai Yeng, 28, lashed out at Ms Nuryanti, slapping her, pulling her hair, attacking her with a metal bar and even hitting her with a wooden back scratcher with such force that it broke.

Yesterday, she was jailed for seven weeks after admitting to abusing the Indonesian, who goes by one name.

The maid's ordeal began on Nov 30, 2011, when Woo slapped her for putting shopping in the wrong place. When Ms Nuryanti pushed her away, Woo attacked her with the scratcher and metal bar.

Three days later, Woo assaulted the maid again after noticing she had fed her baby daughter formula instead of breast milk. She also noticed that her daughter's gums were bleeding.

She slapped Ms Nuryanti in the face several times, pulled her hair and hit her head against the wall repeatedly. Woo only stoppe when her mother separated them.

Woo made a police report on Dec 3 that year when she found her maid missing from her home at Pending Road, Bukit Panjang.

The victim suffered swelling to her head and bruising to her left eyelid, arms and thighs. She also suffered adjustment disorder with depression.

Two charges of using criminal force and causing hurt were considered in sentencing.

Lawyer Josephus Tan said Woo, who is married for a second time, suffers from a severe mental condition. In one of her four psychiatric reports, a doctor felt it was possible that her borderline disorder could have contributed to the offences.

Mr Tan said Woo had learnt a "very bitter lesson", and paid $3,000 compensation to the victim.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Michael Quilindo argued that a jail sentence was warranted in maid abuse cases.

Community Court judge Ng Peng Hong agreed with the prosecution that the primary sentencing consideration in the context of maid abuse should be deterrence.

The maximum penalty for causing hurt to a domestic worker is three years in jail and a $7,500 fine.

This article was published on April 25 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.