Housewife jailed six weeks for maid abuse

A housewife abused her maid three times in less than a month over perceived minor mistakes, causing the injured Indonesian worker to flee the household on June 28, 2016.

Singaporean Karen Ching Pei Yi, 58, was jailed for six weeks yesterday after pleading guilty in March to two counts of assaulting Ms Heni Solekhah, 29. One count of using criminal force on the maid was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Ching's husband employed Ms Heni on Jan 15, 2016, and the maid lived with the couple, their two children and their son-in-law in an Ang Mo Kio flat.

Ching had assigned Ms Heni, who slept on a mattress on the balcony, to perform daily chores such as cooking and doing the laundry.

"She would go to sleep at 1am and wake up at 5.45am as she was unable to complete the chores assigned to her by the accused," Deputy Public Prosecutor Li Yihong told the court.

Ms Heni was also given an allowance in lieu of her weekly days off and was not allowed to own a mobile phone.

The abuse started on June 12, 2016, when Ching kicked the maid's buttocks. Court documents did not reveal why she did so.

Thirteen days later on June 25, 2016, Ching flew into a rage when she could not find some packets of instant noodles she had bought.

Ms Heni told Ching that she had cooked the instant noodles at the request of family members.

DPP Li said: "The accused became angry and asked the victim whether she had eaten the instant noodles. She also scolded the victim, (saying) that she had not followed the accused's previous instructions not to let anyone else eat the instant noodles."

Ching then pulled Ms Heni's hair and shook her head from side to side before pinching her chin, bruising it.

She confronted Ms Heni again two days later because she was unhappy that the maid had washed all the bedsheets and changed the mattress protector on her son's bed.

DPP Li said: "The accused scolded the victim, saying that she had not instructed the victim to change the mattress protector. Also, she scolded the victim for washing all the bedsheets at the same time instead of washing them in batches."

Ching pulled the maid's hair before pinching her left ear. After that, she pinched the maid all over her body and pushed her in the back.

The next day, Ms Heni noticed that there was a scratch on her left ear. She packed her belongings and took a taxi to the Ministry of Manpower in Havelock Road. She recounted her ordeal to an officer and the police were alerted.

Ms Heni was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where she was found to have suffered bruises on her neck and left ear.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Housewife jailed six weeks for maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe