Singaporean couple accused of horrific torture on Indonesian maid convicted at last

Zariah Mohd Ali (56) and her husband Mohamad Dahlan (58) were found guilty of maid abuse under the Penal Code.

Domestic helpers rally in support of an Indonesian maid who was tortured by her employers
Protest for Indonesian maid Reuters

A couple in Singapore, accused of inflicting physical abuse and torture on their Indonesian maid, has been convicted after a trial extending for 17 days, reported The Straits Times. The couple had reportedly abused their maid with weapons such as a hammer, stone pestle, pounder, chopper, and bamboo pole, leading to permanent scarring and disfiguration.

Zariah Mohd Ali (56) and her husband Mohamad Dahlan (58) were found guilty of maid abuse under the Penal Code, which states that employers will be penalised 1.5 times the maximum provisions for such crimes on charges of abuse of their staff.

Zariah has been convicted of 12 charges, whereas Mohamad, a security guard by profession, was convicted of a single charge of hitting maid Khanifah's head with a frying pan cover. The abuse took place at the couple's Woodlands flat between June and December 2012.

Zariah has been convicted of several charges, including injury to Khanifah's head, mouth, left ear, shoulder, forearm and left little finger. She has hit her maid with a hammer on about five occasions, never bothering to provide medical attention. She reportedly once gave Khanifah a sanitary napkin to stem the blood flow.

The Indonesian woman, hailing from a village in Indramayu, came under the couple's employ in November 2011. The abuse started after a few months of an amicable relationship, initially with frequent verbal abuse and physical wounds. It escalated over a period of few weeks.

The maid was sent home on December 19, after the couple's daughter covered her wounds with make-up and long clothes. The extent of the abuse was discovered after she reached Indonesia, following which an Indonesian Embassy staff lodged a police complaint.

Khanifah has testified during the trial that a hammer was used to hit her mouth on at least two occasions. Her teeth and gums were punched too. The forensic report was consistent with her testimony and injuries.

District Judge Luke Tan said that the victim's version of incidents is "clear, coherent, and convincing." He also backed the prosecution's statement that Khanifah's position was weak and vulnerable as she was in a strange country with no friends.

The couple, represented by K. Jayakumar Naidu, maintained that the maid's injuries were self-inflicted. However, Mohamad's efforts towards a private settlement of the matter also points towards the couple's guilt.

The next case hearing for the prosecution is scheduled for November 23, where 16 more charges of maid abuse and two charges of negligence against Zariah, will be decided.