One case of abuse is already one case too many. But this year, we have a staggering number of prominent cases featuring employers abusing their domestic helpers to the point where you’d wonder if they were even human to begin with.
And this case is no different.
42YO Woman Charged for Hitting & Using Heated Iron to Hurt Domestic Helper; Left Her With Permanent Sight Damage
42-year-old Ummi Kalsum Ali was charged in court today (28 Apr) with two counts of voluntarily causing hurt: one of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means, and one of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, according to The Straits Times.
The abuse took place between February 2020 and October 2020, in Ummi’s flat along Pasir Ris Drive 6.
As reported by TODAYonline, the woman had slapped Ms Sugiyem Samad Radimah on the face and ears, punched her eyes and hit them with objects like clothes hangers. This resulted in permanent damage to her sight in both eyes.
She also had repeatedly pressed a hot iron on the victim’s forearms.
Ummi faces another ten counts of offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act—one for failing to provide timely and adequate medical attention on six occasions, and nine for failing to pay Ms Sugiyem her monthly salary of S$670 from January to September last year.
The housewife told District Judge Terence Tay that she has two children at home and asked for a lower bail amount as her family cannot afford to pay for it.
District Judge Tay asserted that the bail quantum of S$20,000 was fair in light of her charges.
Ummi will return to court on 9 June.
A police report against Ummi was lodged on 30 October 2020 by the Centre of Domestic Employees (CDE), after Ms Sugiyem had left Singapore and flew back to Indonesia. However, she did return to assist with investigations.
In a Facebook post, CDE said that their team had been working with the Indonesian Embassy, the local authorities and their partners to provide assistance to the victim.
Through their network of partners, they provided her with counselling sessions and activated their charity fund to pay for her medical expenses.
With regards to charges being pressed, CDE noted that though “[i]t took time to get to this stage, but [they] are certain this is the first step in helping Sugiyem get some justice.”
The organisation also emphasised that such acts of physical abuse towards the vulnerable “should not be condoned” and that individuals should seek help by calling the police, informing the neighbours or contacting CDE’s 24-hour helpline at 1800-2255-233.
They urge the public to keep a lookout for distressed migrant domestic workers and to help them wherever they can.
Feature Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com