SINGAPORE, Sept 28 — Unable to tolerate abuse at the hands of her employer any longer, Sulis Setoywati clambered down balcony after balcony from the 15th floor to escape.
The 26-year-old then lodged a police report against her employer Nuur Audadi Yusoff.
Nuur Audadi, 31, pleaded guilty today to six charges of causing hurt to the Indonesian maid from January to May 2018. She had earlier intended to claim trial.
Nine other similar charges will be considered for sentencing on November 18.
The court heard that Sulis worked for Nuur Audadi from December 2017 to the day she escaped on May 1, 2018.
She has since been staying at the Indonesian embassy in Singapore.
Repeated instances of abuse
The abuse started shortly after Sulis started working for Nuur Audadi, who at that time was a customer service officer at the Manpower Ministry (MOM).
She no longer works there and is currently unemployed.
In January 2018 when Nuur Audadi found out that Sulis forgot to apply baby ointment on her infant’s stomach, she spat at her and slapped her twice while scolding her.
The next month, Nuur Audadi struck her on the head with a glass cup cover after she did not prepare breakfast.
She was also dragged her by her hair into the bathroom when she did not shower the children
She was again pulled by her hair when Nuur Audadi heard her singing to the children.
After these incidents, Sulis cried and asked Nuur Audadi to transfer her to another employer.
Nuur Audadi promised not to hit her again and Sulis agreed to continue working with Nuur Audadi as she needed to send home her monthly wages of S$580 (RM1,760) to support her child.
In April that year, Nuur Audadi also took her to the MOM to report her former employer for wages owed.
Sulis felt grateful for this and also felt that her employer ”occasionally did not differentiate her for being a maid”, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chong Kee En told the court.
Called her a prostitute
However, Nuur Audadi continued to abuse her.
That same month, she told Sulis to clean her husband’s motorcycle and helmet but the maid later realised she had forgotten to ask for the house key so that she could leave the flat.
The couple had left the flat by then.
When Nuur Audadi returned, she struck Sulis with an umbrella handle and used it to poke her abdomen area several times, leaving her with bruises DPP Chong said.
In April 2018, Nuur Audadi discovered that Sulis had a mobile phone and went through her personal chats and photos.
The maid had posted photos of the children under her care as she treated them like her own. Upset by this, Nuur Audadi slapped Sulis on her face several times and threw the phone to the ground, causing it to crack.
She then confiscated the device and began slapping and pulling Sulis’ hair on an almost daily basis for a week.
At the end of the week, Nuur Audadi slapped her again, saying she had “paid a lot of money” for her after she said she had asked her agent for a transfer.
When Nuur Audadi realised the mobile phone was no longer in her bedroom, she assaulted Sulis again and made her search for it till midnight.
She then made Sulis sleep in the living room, locking the maid’s room door and the flat door to prevent her from running away.
On April 30, Nuur Audadi assaulted her several times for reasons such as her hair being oily. She also told Sulis that she was a prostitute and asked if she wanted to seduce her husband.
Not understanding what her employer was saying, Sulis replied: “Yes ma’am.”
Nuur Audadi then struck her with a broom while scolding her for “being a prostitute”.
Climbed down balconies to escape
After this, Sulis decided she had to escape.
She climbed onto the balcony to get to her locked room, threw her clothes down to the ground floor and climbed down 15 floors. This took her the whole morning.
She later sought medical treatment at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. She had bruises on her forehead, hip, forearm and inner thigh, as well as superficial lacerations on her chest and shoulder.
She remains scared of Nuur Audadi to this day, DPP Chong said.
The prosecutor sought at least 10 months’ jail, noting that every injury Audadi inflicted “entailed a combination of physical and psychological harm”.
She was “triggered by the flimsiest of excuses to fly into a rage” and earlier denied committing the “vicious abuse”, DPP Chong added.
The maximum penalty for causing hurt is up to two years’ jail and a fine of up to S$5,000. Employers of domestic helpers, or those in their household, are liable to one-and-a-half times the punishment — resulting in up to three years’ jail and a fine of up to S$7,500. — TODAY