We’ve heard of many cases of maid abuse in Singapore, but few end up with someone getting permanently disfigured.
On 1 August 2019, Thursday, Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, was sentenced to 11-years of jail for causing permanent disfiguration to her Indonesian maid, Ms Khanifah. She was also asked to either compensate the victim with a sum of nearly S$56, 000 or serve an additional five months of jail.
This is one of the longest sentences anyone has received for maid abuse.
Her husband, Mohamad Dahlan, 60, was also sentenced to 15 months of jail for assisting his wife in the abuse. In addition, he was asked to either pay Ms Khanifah a sum of S$1, 000 or serve an additional five days in jail.
The couple had previously also been convicted of abusing another domestic worker in 2001.
The maid, Ms Khanifah, who is from a village in Indramayu, West Java, had come to Singapore on November 2o11. It was said that her relationship with the couple had started out well, but began to deteriorate in June 2012, which is when the physical and verbal abuse had begun. This lasted for about half a year.
The abuse was discovered in December 2012 when Ms Khanifah had returned to Indonesia and her husband, upon seeing her injuries, notified the maid agency.
In 2017, Zariah was found guilty of 12 charges, which included striking Ms Khanifah’s left ear with a bamboo pole, hitting the back of her head and her mouth with a hammer, stabbing her shoulder with scissors, hitting her forehead with a pestle, slashing her forearm with a chopper and pushing her pinky finger back until it broke. This left her with a deformed ear, permanent scars on her forehead, the back of her head and across her shoulders as well as a pinky finger that has never fully healed.
Zariah also did allow Ms Khanifah to call home, use the phone or speak to the neighbours. Whenever visitors came to the flat, she was also forced to stay in the kitchen toilet until they left.
Her husband was also found guilty of hitting the maid on the head with a cover of a frying pan some time between June and December 2012. He was convicted of a single charge.
As a result of all this, not only did Ms Khanifah sustain physical harm, she also was inflicted with a significant amount of psychological harm as well. During the court hearings, she also mentioned that she feels embarrassed about her looks due to the disfigurations and she believes that people are disgusted by her current appearance.
Our hearts go out to Ms Khanifah and we genuinely hope that no one else will ever have to experience what she has gone through.
Photo credits: The Straits Times, Kua Chee Siong
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