Woman jailed 6 months for abusing domestic worker till she fled Sengkang flat to get help
SINGAPORE — A 39-year-old woman, who had assaulted her Indonesian domestic worker at least half a dozen times within two months, was sentenced to six months’ jail on Thursday (March 4).
- Ong Si Mien, 39, pleaded guilty to three charges of assaulting her domestic worker
- She struck the victim on the head with a metal bowl and cordless phone, and also slapped her
- A judge rejected her lawyer’s request for a community-based sentence
- Ong has paid the victim S$5,200 in restitution
SINGAPORE — A 39-year-old woman, who had assaulted her domestic worker at least half a dozen times within two months, was sentenced to six months’ jail on Thursday (March 4).
Ong Si Mien began abusing Yulia, who only goes by one name, two weeks into her employment using household items like a metal bowl and cordless phone.
Indonesian Yulia eventually escaped Ong’s Sengkang flat without any money save for some coins from her home country, before getting help from a member of the public at a bus stop.
Ong, who runs her own business from home, pleaded guilty last week to three counts of voluntarily causing hurt to the 33-year-old victim. Three other similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
She was acquitted of a more serious charge of causing hurt by a dangerous weapon or means after a trial.
District Judge Eddy Tham on Thursday rejected her lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu’s argument for a mandatory treatment order suitability report to be called.
This is a community sentencing option offered to offenders suffering from mental conditions that contributed to the offence. Those found suitable must attend sessions with a court-appointed psychiatrist.
The judge noted that while a psychiatrist had found she suffered from postnatal depression at the time, which she developed after giving birth to her second son, it had only partially contributed to her offences.
Ong may have been more prone to losing her temper and triggered by trivial events while in a “depressed and irritable state”. But this did not justify the use of violence, the judge added.
“She clearly knew what she was doing was wrong… had she stopped to reflect after committing violence for the first time and taken remedial actions, I would have taken a more sympathetic view.”
District Judge Tham added that Ong would likely have continued abusing Yulia if she had not escaped and gotten a stranger’s help.
He then adjusted Ong’s sentence after taking her mental condition into account.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Soh Weiqi had sought at least eight months’ jail and a compensation order of S$5,200, but revealed that Ong has already made restitution of that amount to the maid.
This comprised S$550 for each of the four months of unemployment and S$500 for each of the six instances of abuse.
Ong will begin serving her sentence on April 1, and remains out on an increased bail amount of S$15,000.
She had arrived at the State Courts with another woman, with both donning headscarfs in a bid to avoid press photographers, though Ong did not wear one in the courtroom.
The court heard that Ong was Yulia’s first employer in Singapore. She began working for Ong in July 2016.
Around two weeks later, while the pair were in the kitchen, Ong scolded her for keeping all the bowls in a cupboard instead of leaving three of them on the shelves.
Ong then took one of the bowls and struck Yulia on the side of her head. Yulia noticed that the bowl was slightly dented from the impact.
She then approached Ong’s husband in the living room and told him that she wanted to be transferred back to the employment agency. However, Ong rubbished that suggestion and scolded her for talking to him.
In another instance in August 2016, Ong’s mother-in-law told Yulia to boil some Chinese herbs. Yulia did so before going to wash the toilets and had to shower at a later time than usual.
Before she could do so, Ong got home and scolded her for showering later.
Ong then took a call on a cordless phone before using it to hit Yulia on the top of her head once. While the helper “felt pain”, she remained standing in front of Ong because one of Ong’s rules was that she had to stay still when Ong was angry at her.
After this, Yulia requested once more for a transfer but Ong refused, saying that she would transfer her to India instead.
On Sept 24, 2016, Ong scolded Yulia for putting her four-year-old son’s pants on in the wrong manner, then slapped her on the face hard, causing her nose to bleed.
Ong later left the flat with the boy and Yulia decided to leave as well. She had not received any of her salary at this point and had only some coins from Indonesia.
She took her belongings and walked to the Jalan Kayu-Seletar area, managing to get help from a passerby who called the police.
Police officers later took her to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.