‘Cruel’ Singapore employer jailed for repeatedly abusing maid, who clambered down 15 storeys to escape

In the space of four months, Nuur Audadi Yusoff spat on Ms Sulis Setoywati, pulled her hair, slapped her, kicked her head and bruised her with a broomstick, among other offences. — AFP pic
In the space of four months, Nuur Audadi Yusoff spat on Ms Sulis Setoywati, pulled her hair, slapped her, kicked her head and bruised her with a broomstick, among other offences. — AFP pic

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SINGAPORE, Nov 18 — A woman who repeatedly abused her domestic helper, causing her to flee an Yishun flat by clambering down 15 floors of balconies, was today jailed for 10 months and two weeks. 

Nuur Audadi Yusoff, 31, pleaded guilty in September to six counts of causing hurt to Indonesian domestic worker Sulis Setoywati, 26, from January to May 2018. 

In the space of four months, the former customer service officer with telecommunications firm Singtel spat on Sulis, pulled her hair, slapped her, kicked her head and bruised her with a broomstick, among other offences. 

Nine other similar charges were considered during sentencing today.

Nuur Audadi had earlier this week compensated the domestic worker S$7,020 (RM21,399.41) for four months of lost wages and the injuries she suffered.

Sulis worked for Nuur Audadi from December 2017 until she escaped on May 1, 2018. She has since been putting up at the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore.

Vicious abuse

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chong Kee En described Nuur Audadi’s conduct as a case of vicious abuse. 

Dissatisfied with the “escalating and gratuitous violence” she had been inflicting, Nuur Audadi locked Sulis in the house on the day the worker escaped, he said.”

Desperate to escape her abuser, (Sulis) risked her life and climbed down 15 storeys in the dead of night,” added DPP Chong.

Kalaithasan Karuppaya, Nuur Audadi’s lawyer, urged the judge to show leniency. 

He wrote in his mitigation plea that Nuur Audadi was “utterly ashamed of her actions” and recognised the need for professional help to cope with her emotions. 

District Judge Ronald Gwee said Nuur Audadi’s “cruel treatment” of Sulis caused the helper psychological and physical harm.”

A clear deterrent sentence is needed in this case to send a message that such cruel behaviour is not accepted,” he said. 

The maximum penalty for causing hurt is two years’ jail and a fine of S$5,000.

Employers of domestic workers, or those in their household, are liable to one-and-a-half times the punishment — or up to three years’ jail and a fine of up to S$7,500.

Nuur Audadi begins her jail sentence today.

The case

The abuse started soon after Sulis began working for Nuur Audadi in late 2017.

Nuur Audadi was then a Singtel employee attached to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as a customer service officer. She is now unemployed.

In January 2018, when Nuur Audadi found out that Sulis forgot to apply baby ointment on her infant’s stomach, she spat on her and slapped her twice while scolding her. 

The next month, Nuur Audadi — a mother of two children aged 3 and 4 — struck Sulis on the head with a glass cup cover after she failed to prepare breakfast.

The woman dragged the helper by her hair into the bathroom when she did not shower the children.

Nuur Audadi again pulled Sulis by her hair when she heard the helper singing to the kids. 

After these incidents, Sulis wept and asked Nuur Audadi for a transfer to another employer.

After she promised not to hit her again, Sulis agreed to continue working because she needed to send home her monthly wage of S$580 to support her child.

In April 2018, Nuur Audadi took her to MOM to report Sulis’ former employer for wages owed. Sulis was grateful for this.

That same month, however, Nuur Audadi discovered that Sulis had a mobile phone, and went through her chats and photos.

She confiscated the phone and made Sulis sleep in the living room, locking the helper’s room door and the flat door to stop her from running away.

On April 30, 2018, Nuur Audadi assaulted her several times for reasons such as Sulis’ hair being oily.

She also struck her with a broom while scolding her for “being a prostitute”.

It was then that Sulis decided she had to escape.

At 2am on May 1, 2018, she climbed onto the balcony to get to her locked room, threw her clothes over the edge to the ground floor, and descended 15 floors. 

This took her the entire morning.

She later sought treatment at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, having suffered bruises on her forehead, hip, forearm and inner thigh as well as superficial cuts on her chest and shoulder. — TODAY

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