Block 280 on Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 in Singapore where the two women lived. Photo: Google Maps
Block 280 on Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 in Singapore where the two women lived. Photo: Google Maps

A 37-year-old woman from Myanmar faces up to 27 months in a Singapore jail after pleading guilty to physically abusing her 23-year-old Myanmar maid between May and September in 2015.

Domestic helper Ei Phyu Tun moved to Singapore in April 2015 after being referred by a relative to her employer. The maid was required to be on duty seven days a week and her employer gave birth to a daughter in March the following year. They lived and worked in an apartment in Block 280 on Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3, Shin Min Daily News reported.

After the employer gave birth, the relationship between the two was good for the first month. But then the employer started to become hostile and regularly criticized the maid for being slow or having made mistakes. By late June, when the three-month-old baby girl was discharged from hospital after having intestinal problems, the employer’s temper tantrums became worse.

The first instance of physical abuse came after the pair had a dispute over the baby’s milk bottle, which the employer claimed had not been washed. When the maid tried to explain, the employer accused her of talking back and slapped her across the face.

Things escalated and on September 17, while the maid was washing dishes, the employer hit her in the face, neck and chest with a metal clothes hanger. A metal rod was used in later abuses.

On Sept. 21, the maid saw an opportunity to escape and went to the Ministry of Manpower, with help from a neighbor who paid her taxi fare. After a medical examination, she was found to have 14 injuries, a deformed left hand and fractured ribs.

The employer was diagnosed with major depression, which the prosecutor and the defense had a heated discussion about. The defense argued that the employer’s abusive behavior was a result of the illness.

However, the prosecutor dismissed the claim and argued there was no direct link to clinical depression and the accused’s abusive behavior, and suggested a sentence of at least 27 months in jail.

Sentencing has been scheduled for August 17 after consideration of a leniency plea and closing arguments from both sides.

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