Tay Li Nah, 39, an employer of a domestic worker, was sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to kicking Saedatun Fandilah repeatedly on her buttocks, thighs and abdomen at about 12.30am on 5 Feb 2013. This was reported in the Straits Times, 27 August 2014.

Five hours later, Saedatun, in a bid to escape, removed the bathroom window’s shutters and climbed out of the flat. It was located on the 36th floor. Fortunately, a resident on the 34th floor heard her crying for help and helped her into her own flat in Teban Gardens Road. Saedatun was treated in hospital for injuries. Ambulance staff alerted the police, said the Straits Times.

Prosecution told the court that the employer had set up CCTV cameras to film her maid, who was made to work “extremely long hours” while being “deprived of physical rest”. In the lead-up to the incident, Tay had scolded Saedatun for mopping the floor without sweeping it first. She made the maid face the wall and kicked her buttocks repeatedly. She then turned her around and kicked her 26 year-old employee repeatedly on her abdomen and upper thighs.

“She had in fact consciously and intentionally targeted the victim as the victim was the most vulnerable and dependent in the house,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon. “Further physical and psychological torment was inflicted on the victim because not only was she deprived of physical rest, owing to her extremely long hours of work, she never had a moment to herself because of the CCTV footage installed to monitor her.

“The accused also videoed her with her hand-held camcorder when she was sleeping on her job”.

Straits Times noted that Tay could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $7,500 for the offence.

Domestic workers falling to their deaths from heights is distressingly regular news. See for example, this news flash from April 2012: Eighth domestic worker so far this year dies from fall

While speculation often centres on unsafe ways of cleaning windows or maids choosing to commit suicide, TWC2 believes that in actual fact a good number of these cases are of maids trying to escape abusive employers. Saedatun Fandilah is one of the lucky ones to have survived.

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