Abused maid 'glad to leave devil's home'

Indonesian domestic worker Ms Khanifah (pictured) said she did not ask for help from immigration officers at the airport as she was "already happy that I am going home and leaving the devil's house".
Indonesian domestic worker Ms Khanifah (pictured) said she did not ask for help from immigration officers at the airport as she was "already happy that I am going home and leaving the devil's house".ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

She says employer, who faces abuse charges, made her hide injuries with tudung, make-up

When she was sent home after suffering multiple injuries allegedly inflicted by her employer, an Indonesian domestic worker said she was glad to have left the "devil's house".

Ms Khanifah, 35, told a court yesterday her employer, Zariah Mohd Ali, 54, gave her a long-sleeved shirt, pants and a tudung to cover the injuries on her head on Dec 19, 2012 - the day she was sent home.

Zariah's daughter, Ms Atiqah, 18, made up her face to cover her injuries and gave her a pair of glasses to wear, Ms Khanifah said, adding that she then had bruises on her face, blue-black marks below her eyes and injuries on her lips, forehead, nose and ears.

She said she had repeatedly asked to return home because Zariah lied to her that her child had died. When Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz asked why Zariah decided to send her back in December, Ms Khanifah said: "Because I was due for my second medical check-up.''

Zariah only told her the night before that she would be sent back, said Ms Khanifah, who started work at the household on Nov 30, 2011.

She did not ask for help from immigration officers at the airport as she was "already happy that I am going home and leaving the devil's house''.

Zariah, who turned up in court in a wheelchair, is accused of hurting Ms Khanifah by dangerous means and causing her grievous hurt by dangerous means, resulting in permanent disfiguration to her head and face between June and December 2012. Zariah allegedly used an array of weapons - a hammer, chopper, stone pounder, scissors and bamboo pole - to injure Ms Khanifah.

Zariah's husband, Mohamad Dahlan, 56, is alleged to have hit Ms Khanifah on the head with the cover of a frying pan.

Ms Khanifah said she did not tell her husband about the "torture'' that she endured when she met him as she just wanted to meet her children. Her mother noticed the injuries on her head the following morning, she said.

Ms Khanifah said she had to borrow from friends and relatives to pay for her medical expenses. She asked Zariah for money and the latter sent her 1 million rupiah (S$103) for her treatment. Ms Khanifah was warded for 15 days in a Jakarta hospital in January 2013 for her injuries.

In a statement, she stated that she had, among other injuries, two front teeth detached as a result of a hammer attack; a broken left pinkie; very blurred vision in the right eye due to the splashing of liquid detergent; and wrists sliced with a knife.

When she went out while here, she was made to wear a tudung to cover the injuries on her head, and a sweater to cover her hand injuries.

She told the court she could not run away as the windows and doors of the Woodlands flat were locked. Neither could she call anyone as Zariah claimed the phone was "locked'' and no calls out could be made. Whenever the family had visitors, she said Zariah would ask her to hide in the kitchen toilet.

She came back to Singapore on April 27, 2013 - 16 days after an Indonesian Embassy staff member lodged a police report on her behalf.

When asked how she felt about her appearance now, she replied: "I feel sad.. because I am already deformed.''

As for who was responsible for her deformities, she said: "Ma'am should be responsible for it.''

In the afternoon, the couple's lawyer Jayakumar Naidu told District Judge Luke Tan that Zariah had chest pain and was unable to continue. The hearing was then adjourned till today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Abused maid 'glad to leave devil's home''. Print Edition | Subscribe