Abuse by couple left maid, 39, disfigured and traumatised

Ms Khanifah (above), a mother of two, suffered permanent disfiguration, including a deformed left ear and scars on her forehead, among other injuries. The prosecution called the abuse inflicted on her by Zariah Mohd Ali (left), 58, and her husband Mo
Ms Khanifah, a mother of two, suffered permanent disfiguration, including a deformed left ear and scars on her forehead, among other injuries. The prosecution called the abuse inflicted on her by Zariah Mohd Ali (above), 58, and her husband Mohamad Dahlan, 60, one of the worst cases of maid abuse in Singapore. ST FILE PHOTO
Ms Khanifah (above), a mother of two, suffered permanent disfiguration, including a deformed left ear and scars on her forehead, among other injuries. The prosecution called the abuse inflicted on her by Zariah Mohd Ali (left), 58, and her husband Mo
Ms Khanifah (above), a mother of two, suffered permanent disfiguration, including a deformed left ear and scars on her forehead, among other injuries. The prosecution called the abuse inflicted on her by Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, and her husband Mohamad Dahlan, 60, one of the worst cases of maid abuse in Singapore. ST FILE PHOTO

Ms Khanifah, a mother of two from Indramayu, West Java, thinks people are disgusted when they see her. The 39-year-old has a deformed left ear, and permanent and prominent scars on her forehead, back of her head and across her shoulders. Her left little finger is functionally impaired.

These injuries and disfigurations were inflicted during a period of six months by her Singaporean employers Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, and her husband Mohamad Dahlan, 60.

Found guilty in 2017 of 12 charges, Zariah was sentenced to 11 years in jail yesterday, believed to be the longest sentence for maid abuse. She was also ordered to pay Ms Khanifah a compensation of about $56,000, or serve an additional five months in jail.

Mohamad was jailed for 15 months and told to pay the maid $1,000 or serve an additional five days in jail. The prosecution called it one of the worst cases of maid abuse in Singapore.

In her statement, the victim said the abuse left her feeling traumatised. "Even at the court hearings, when I saw her, I felt very scared because I was reminded of what happened. I was scared if I was going to be attacked by her again," she said.

Ms Khanifah started work as a maid in November 2011 but by June 2012, Zariah began scolding and physically abusing her.

She abused the maid using various household items. She hit Ms Khanifah's head and her mouth with a hammer, struck her left ear with a bamboo pole and hit her forehead with a stone pestle.

Zariah Mohd Ali and her husband Mohamad Dahlan, seen here leaving the State Courts on Tuesday, were dealt with in court yesterday for abusing their maid. 	Zariah, 58, who used items such as a hammer and stone pestle to hit her Indonesian maid, causin
Zariah Mohd Ali and her husband Mohamad Dahlan, seen here leaving the State Courts on Tuesday, were dealt with in court yesterday for abusing their maid. Zariah, 58, who used items such as a hammer and stone pestle to hit her Indonesian maid, causing permanent disfiguration, was sentenced to 11 years in jail yesterday. She was also ordered to pay about $56,000 as compensation to the victim. Her jail term is believed to be the longest meted out for maid abuse. Her husband, a 60-year-old security guard, was sentenced to 15 months in jail for his role in the abuse, and told to pay the maid $1,000. Both are appealing against their sentences. The prosecution had called this one of the worst cases of maid abuse in Singapore. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

She also stabbed the maid's shoulder with a pair of scissors, slashed her forearm with a chopper and forcefully pushed her left little finger backwards until it broke.

Her security guard husband hit the maid on the head with a frying pan cover at their Woodlands flat.

Besides physically abusing Ms Khanifah, Zariah also did not allow her to call home or use the phone. She was also made to stay in the toilet whenever visitors came to the flat.

The abuse was discovered when Ms Khanifah was sent back to Indonesia in December 2012. Her husband saw her injuries and notified the maid agency.

 
 
 
 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien said significant psychological harm was inflicted on Ms Khanifah.

In her defence, Zariah said she had been suffering from depression after she suffered two strokes.

But the prosecution said Zariah did not suffer from any mental illness at the time of the offences. This was supported by psychiatric reports by multiple doctors.

DPP Tan also said Zariah still has normal functioning and strength in the right side of her body.

The couple, who were convicted of abuse of another maid in 2001, are appealing against their current sentences.

In the earlier case, Zariah was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail and fined $500 for rubbing sambal goreng on their previous maid's eyes and throwing a mug of water at her. As she did not pay the fine, she served an additional two weeks in jail.

Mohamad was jailed 12 weeks for slapping the maid on her neck and pulling her ears on two separate occasions.

In his sentencing remarks, District Judge Luke Tan said that "sadly, both persons have demonstrated no remorse" for their actions despite being punished for past offences of maid abuse.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2019, with the headline 'Abuse by couple left maid, 39, disfigured and traumatised'. Print Edition | Subscribe