SINGAPORE — A Singaporean woman was charged on Wednesday (28 April) with abusing her Indonesian maid, including permanently damaging her eyesight.
Apart from the four assault charges handed to Ummi Kalsum Ali, the 42-year-old housewife was also given 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, nine of which are for failing to pay the same maid, Sugiyem Samad Ramidah, her salary for most of last year.
Ummi's most serious assault charge is for allegedly voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Sugiyem by punching and hitting her eyes with a variety of objects, including clothes hangers, causing the helper to suffer “permanent privation of sight" in both eyes, according to her charge sheet.
Ummi is said to have committed this act between April and September last year at a flat at Pasir Ris Drive.
At the same flat, Ummi is alleged to have slapped Sugiyem on her face and ear between February and April last year, pressed a heated iron onto her right forearm repeatedly in October last year and repeatedly slapped her face between June and July last year. All three alleged offences constitute the charges of voluntarily causing hurt.
Ummi was also charged for ill treating Sugiyem by neglecting to provide timely and adequate medical attention and treatment to her on six occasions, despite being aware that she needed such attention.
Finally, Ummi was charged with not paying Sugiyem her salary of $670 per month in a timely manner – within seven days of the last day of a salary period – for nine months.
The case was adjourned for additional charges to be tendered and to allow Sugiyem time to recover from a recent surgery in order to get an update on her condition.
Asked for a lower bail
Appearing unrepresented, Ummi asked for a lower bail as she has two children to care for and does not have enough money.
Ummi's bailor is her husband, a technician who also does not have enough money, she said.
However, District Judge Terence Tay maintained Ummi's bail at $20,000. The case will be mentioned in court again on 9 June.
A charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt carries a jail term of up to 10 years, and/or a fine or caning. A charge of voluntarily causing hurt carries a jail term of up to three years, and/or a fine of up to $5,000. As an employer who caused hurt to a maid under her employ, if convicted, Ummi's punishment may be enhanced by up to two times.
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