An Indonesian maid was sentenced to four months’ jail on Monday (Jan 4) after she was caught on video kicking her employer’s one-year-old daughter.
Khaerun Nisa Selfitriya, 28, was charged in October last year under the Children and Young Persons Act.
The video of her kicking her employer's one-year-old daughter to the floor was posted on Facebook by the girl’s father and shared more than 2,000 times.
The father, Christopher Sun, first installed a CCTV camera in his house after noticing scratch marks on his daughter’s arm in May last year, the court heard.
Khaerun faced two charges, the first of which was ill-treating the girl by kicking her left thigh area and causing her to fall to the side with her head hitting the floor. This was after the toddler started crying and vomiting when Khaerun, who was feeding her then, asked her to finish her food.
The second charge was for ill-treating the girl's younger brother – then eight months old – by slapping his back with her hand multiple times, after he cried while being fed.
"DEFENCELESS YOUNG TODDLERS": DPP
In submitting for a sentence of at least four months’ jail, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee said that the age of the victims should be taken into consideration.
“These are defenceless young toddlers who are unable to voice any complaints, given their age, to their parents,” he said.
Another factor, Mr Kee added, was the difficulty of detecting such offences. It was "completely fortuitous" that there was a CCTV camera and the incident was captured on camera, he said.
“Given the modern demographic of Singaporean households where both parents are employed during the day, as such the care of their children is left solely to domestic helpers who are entrusted with the safety and care of these individuals,” he said. “The accused in this case has abused the trust imposed on her by lashing out at these children.”
Mr Kee noted that Khaerun had said that she was treated well by her employers, who brought her along for a holiday in China once.
When the judge noted that both victims had suffered no injuries, DPP Kee replied that “the fact of the matter is the first victim fell to the floor and hit her head”.
"SPUR OF THE MOMENT": DEFENCE
In his mitigation plea, defence lawyer Nasser Ismail argued that there were no particular injuries to the children. He also noted that Khaerun had confessed to the “irresponsible act without being shown video footage of her offences then”.
“She had no intention to hurt the children, especially the eight-month-old toddler, she being the mother of four girls herself – the youngest three years old,” said Mr Nasser. “It was done in the spur of the moment, it was not pre-planned or out of wickedness.”
He added that Khaerun had been paranoid, depressed and afraid since starting work for her employers in May, and had “reached a breaking point when she lost her mind on that fateful day”.
According to Mr Nasser, this was due to a host of reasons including not being allowed any off days, her employers constantly deriding her for no reason, not having heard any news from home since May and desperately missing her own children, and the fear of incurring debts if she did not fulfil her contract.
Mr Nasser said Khaerun, a first-time offender, was truly remorseful for her folly: “She has suffered great trauma and emotional stress, and now she is too ashamed to face her family ... She is now determined to change her ways and return home to find work to help her family.”
The judge sentenced Khaerun to four months’ jail for the first charge and three months for the second charge, to be served concurrently. The sentence was backdated to Oct 16 last year, when Khaerun was detained.
After court was adjourned, Khaerun, who remained stony-faced throughout the hearing, stood up in the dock and shouted: “Thank you ma’am.”