A Singapore permanent resident (PR) was sentenced to two years and one month’s jail on 17 July for repeatedly abusing her domestic helper over a period of three months.
Chan Mya Aye pleaded guilty to two charges of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons, and one charge of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Ei Phyu Tun. Three other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Both women are Myanmar nationals.
It was reported that Aye, 39, had employed Ms Tun, 25, as her domestic helper illegally through the latter’s cousin in Myanmar, instead of soliciting the assistance of a domestic helper agency.
Ms Tun lived with Aye and her husband, as well as Aye’s mother and baby daughter, alongside a tenant in their flat in Choa Chu Kang from April to September in 2015.
About a month after Ms Tun started work, Aye began to reprimand her for making mistakes and taking too long to complete her chores.
Aye started physically abusing Ms Tun in June 2015, and slapped her once on the face.
Gradually, Aye started using household tools as weapons in her assault against Ms Tun.
It was understood that the tools included two 70cm-long metal poles, the metal handle of a duster, and an improvised metal hanger that is about 50 cm long.
Aye had used the metal hanger to hit Ms Tun multiple times on her face, neck and chest in Sep 2015 while she was washing the dishes.
As a result, the domestic helper was left with a 2cm-long laceration on her face.
Four days after assaulting the domestic helper using the metal hanger, Aye slapped Ms Tun’s face multiple times before using a metal pole to hit her several times on her back, left hip, left arm and both legs.
On 21 Sep 2015, Ms Tun had used traditional Burmese ointment to treat her wounds after being assaulted by her employer.
However, this angered Aye, who used a metal pole later in the afternoon to hit her again multiple times on her back, left hip, left arm and left wrist.
Ms Tun seized the opportunity to flee Aye’s flat upon seeing that her employer was occupied, and took a taxi to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) with the assistance of some passers-by.
MOM subsequently called the police to report that she was in pain and required immediate medical attention.
She was then taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) by an ambulance.
It was found by a doctor at TTSH that Ms Tun had sustained several bruises, lacerations, and a rib fracture.
Multiple laceration scars were also found on her back.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong stated that Aye chose not to replace Ms Tun, as that would cause “a great inconvenience to her”.
She had admitted that she was lashing out on her domestic helper.
Two psychiatrists also found that Aye had a major depressive disorder (MDD), however, in delivering the sentence upon Aye, District Judge Sarah Tan said:
“I take cognizance of the fact that she suffers from MDD, as established by both doctors. However, I will not be able to agree that her culpability was diminished to the extent sought by the defence.”
While Aye pleaded guilty to the charges, the judge noted that she only did so on the first day of the trial.
The judge noted that the accused had paid a compensation of S$10,300 to the victim which she took it as a sign of remorse and accorded some mitigating factors.
Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, Ms Tun said that being in the courtroom with her former employer was painful, as she had to relive the account of her abuse.
She returned to Myanmar last November, and is currently working in a garment factory there.
She also said that Aye’s mother had tried to protect her during the assaults, but Aye would beat her more severely as a result.
Outside of the courtroom, Ms Tun went on all fours to show her gratitude to the Investigating Officers who handled her case.
Ms Tun said to TOC:
“I am deeply saddened by this incident, especially so since my employer is a friend of my very own first cousin. My advice for anyone working in Singapore is not to be scared or embarrassed to reach out and seek help from the public, police, MOM, Embassy, HOME and other NGOs”.