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Employer accused of kicking maid in crotch, forcing her to take shower with no privacy because she was ‘smelly’

SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old woman has been accused of kicking her maid in the crotch, along with other physical abuse, and forcing the woman to shower in front of her because she said the maid was “smelly” — among a series of other alleged abuses.

Rosdiana Abdul Rahim on Thursday pleaded not guilty to seven charges — all pertaining to the alleged ill-treatment of her maid between September and December in 2017 at a condominium where she lived with her husband and two twin children who were five years old then.

Rosdiana Abdul Rahim on Thursday pleaded not guilty to seven charges — all pertaining to the alleged ill-treatment of her maid between September and December in 2017 at a condominium where she lived with her husband and two twin children who were five years old then.

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SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old woman has been accused of kicking her domestic worker in the crotch, along with other physical abuse, and forcing the woman to shower in front of her because she said the maid was “smelly”.

At the start of the trial of Rosdiana Abdul Rahim on Thursday (April 2), the domestic helper gave evidence alleging that Rosdiana had forced her to dress in front of open windows in the view of strangers outside.

Among other alleged abuses, Rosdiana is also accused of physically abusing the now 21-year-old domestic worker, Indonesian national Mayang Sari, by pinching her breast, and closing a cupboard door on her forearm, just below the wrist.

Rosdiana also allegedly poured talcum powder onto Ms Mayang's face, causing some powder to enter her eyes and inflict pain.

On Thursday, Rosdiana pleaded not guilty to seven charges — all pertaining to the alleged ill-treatment between September and December in 2017 at a condominium, where she lived with her husband and two twin children who were five years old then.

Other charges alleged that she did not grant Ms Mayang adequate rest daily and threatened to harm her family in Lampung, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

One charge alleged that Rosdiana pulled the helper's shirt until one of the buttons came loose, and pulled her bra until one of the bra hooks came off.

EMPLOYER DID NOT BELIEVE SHE BATHED DAILY

Ms Mayang was the first witness to testify in the trial on Thursday. Rosdiana has not yet presented her defence case.

The domestic worker told the court that Rosdiana, whom she said worked in the events industry, was her first employer in Singapore. 

She said she wanted to work here in a bid to “change my life”. She ended up working for Rosdiana for a total of two months and 15 days with no remuneration, although the agreed salary was S$600 a month.

During her employment, she was told to sleep next to a toilet without a blanket or pillow.

Ms Mayang had brought a batik cloth from Indonesia, which she intended to use as her blanket, but she said Rosdiana had thrown it away saying it was “smelly”.

She also said that her employer forced her to shower in front of her in November 2017 because Rosdiana “did not believe” that she bathed herself daily.

“She said I smell… She said that my bath towel smelled as well. She took my towel and threw it away,” she told the court, speaking in Bahasa Indonesia through an interpreter.

She recounted that Rosdiana pushed her into the bathroom in the house’s master bedroom, sprayed water all over her with her clothes still on and put “a lot of shampoo” over her head, before telling her to remove all of her wet clothing.

“I removed, and was crying inside the shower,” she added, choking back tears as she gave her evidence.

As she was trying to rinse the shampoo off that day, Rosdiana’s husband happened to walk into the bedroom looking for something so she tried to cover herself, she said.

But Rosdiana apparently told her: “No, my husband will not be interested.”

After she was done bathing, Rosdiana told her to change her clothes outside the bathroom. Ms Mayang said: “Her husband was just outside there, in the living room. He was in a position where he was able to see.”

Furthermore, the windows of the master bedroom of her employer’s unit were wide open. “I could see people outside the window, and I was quite sure that they could also see me.”

TRIED TO STRIP HER IN FRONT OF FAMILY MEMBERS

A few weeks later, Rosdiana became so angry that her helper had eaten some instant noodles that she tried to rip open Ms Mayang’s clothes in front of Rosdiana’s older sister, the children and their grandmother — none of whom said anything during the abuse — Ms Mayang said.

“She managed to pull my bra away and tried to make me strip naked,” she added, noting that she had eaten the noodles earlier that day only because she was given four small pieces of biscuit for breakfast.

As a result of this incident, one of the hooks on her bra was torn off.

The talcum powder incident happened a few days later.

Rosdiana told her that she looked “ugly” because of the powder that Ms Mayang had applied on her own face. Her employer then “put as much (powder) as she could” on her face until her eyes were hurting, she said.

When she tried to remove the powder, Rosdiana did not let her, she told the court.

“She said… if you remove the powder on your face, your parents will not be there for you when you go back,” Ms Mayang said, adding: “I was worried that she might really kill my parents.”

With the powder still on her face, they then left for a hotel, where Rosdiana — who works in the events and decorations business — and her family would be staying for three days, she said.

Ms Mayang was not allowed to carry extra clothes with her for the three-day hotel stay, she added.

After they returned from the hotel, Rosdiana complained that her underwear and clothes reeked of a smell, so she kicked her in the crotch twice after ripping her T-shirt from the collar to the helm, Ms Mayang told the court.

She tried to cover herself from Rosdiana’s husband, who was nearby at that time, but the employer pinched her breasts as she remarked that her breasts are so small so her husband would not be interested, she added.

The abuse continued as she was about to get a change of clothes from a cupboard, she noted. Rosdiana banged on the cupboard door, knowing that her hand was still in the cupboard compartment, she said.

She was sent back to the maid agency a day later, where she was first scolded by an agent at the agency before she could explain that she had been abused.

The agency then referred her to the police station to file a report.

Rosdiana is represented by lawyers Dhillon Surinder Singh and Suppiah Krishnamurthi. Deputy Public Prosecutor Angela Ang is mounting the case for the prosecution.

If convicted of insulting the modesty of Ms Mayang, Rosdiana faces imprisonment of up to one-and-a-half years, a fine, or both.

For using criminal force on the worker without grave and sudden provocation, she could face up to another three months in jail, a fine of up to S$1,500, or both.

Ill-treating the worker by pouring powder onto her face — an act that contravenes a condition under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012 — could put her in jail for up to another year, subject her to a fine of up to S$10,000, or both.

If convicted of threatening to harm Ms Mayang's family, the punishment could extend up to two years in jail, involve a fine, or both.

If convicted of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Mayang — pinching her breast, kicking her in the crotch and closing the cupboard door on her forearm — Rosdiana faces up to another three years in jail, a fine of up to S$7,500, or both.

The punishment for not granting the maid enough rest could be up to a year in jail, a fine of up to S$10,000, or both.

Rosdiana remains out on bail.

The trial is continuing.

Related topics

maid abuse foreign domestic worker court crime assault

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