A troubling trend.

Husband quits job while she’s jailed for maid abuse
Lee Ching Wern

The 29-year-old woman accused of a staggering 79 charges of abusing her Indonesian maid was sentenced to 10 months’ jail yesterday.

Clad in a red T-shirt with her hair tied up in a ponytail, former production manager Sazarina Madzin wept in the dock when her sentence was read out.

The mother of three was convicted after pleading guilty to six charges of abuse last month. Another 73 charges and one of criminal intimidation were taken into consideration for her sentencing. She could have been jailed up to 18 months or fined up to $1,000.

Over a period of 10 months between May last year and March this year, Sazarina slapped, punched and kicked 22-year-old Wiwik Setyowati for not doing her household chores properly.

The court also heard that she would hit the maid with anything she could get her hands on, including a sauce bottle and a chopping board.

Calling the jail term a huge blow to the family, Sazarina’s husband Mr Nor Azlan Sulaiman, 34, told Today he has resigned from his job as an operations manager at a mosque so that he could take care of their two sons and one daughter who are 7, 9 and 12 years old respectively.

He hopes to get another job that allows him to work the night shift.

“The children have been asking for their mother. They are very sad. I haven’t told the children what happened. What am I going to tell them?” he said at the family’s Yishun home.

His eldest daughter, who sat for her PSLE exams during the court case, was the most affected.

“Her friends from school and even her teachers know about this. She was very sad and she even cut out the maid’s face from all the photos we’ve taken together. Her prelim results also dropped significantly. Her PSLE results are coming out tomorrow and I pray very hard that everything will be okay,” said Mr Nor Azlan.

When asked whether Ms Wiwik had ever told him about the abuse, he recalled that she had complained to him once — about four or five months ago — that Sazarina had slapped her.

“I was angry and told my wife that she shouldn’t do that. Subsequently, there were no more complaints and I thought everything was okay.”

Sazarina, whom he described as “a very feminine and gentle woman”, had requested to replace the maid two months after she arrived. But Mr Nor Azlan persuaded her not to do so as they were facing financial problems and could not afford the cost of finding a new maid.

“It is partly my fault. If only I had listened to my wife when she complained that the maid was not good and asked for a new one, this might not have happened. But I had told her to be patient as we could not afford it,” he said.

Wow! 79 charges of Maid Abuse! Isn’t anyone at all perturbed by this troubling trend? Or are we so consumed by our utilitarian pragmatic dogma to even think about such insignificant issues?

I am somewhat numbed by any news relating to maids nowadays. Like the recent one about an employer pimping her maid for money. Yes PIMPING! (Que 5O cent’s P.I.M.P. Okay bad joke but seriously, if we cannot take this issue seriously, might as well take it with sarcasm and satire right?) What’s next? I simply had to stop myself from postulating any other possible scenarios.

I have a theory about the treatment of maids in Singapore. Underpinning the Utilitarian hypothesis by a certain ST journalist (I simply cannot remember her name), our society has not reached the stage where the treatment of human beings goes beyond purely economic or purely political justifications. Am I to subscribe to the belief that skipping stages in the developmental schema, while may be beneficial economically, is most detrimental to the development of political and societal forces within the society itself? France had their French Revolutions of 1789 and Russia had its revolutions in 1905 and 1911. Maybe we are simply not prepared to deal with the existence of maids in our socio-economic framework, completely focused on their economic use rather than their emotional well-being.

But what about the rights of workers? Don’t we have the five day week applied to all government related agencies? Aren’t Full Time National Servicemen, enlisted in service for the nation, given proper treatment reflective of the current Singaporean society, going beyond giving punishment without reason (Or maybe not!)? Why the double standards?

I personally believe that we first have to accept the fact that maids are an essential layer in our social fabric and that their roles, rather than diminishing, would be given due emphasis, looking at how Singapore is progressing. Looking beyond our utilitarian perspectives, we need to look after their welfare and emotional well being.

I shudder to think what would appear next in the news about the Maids in Singapore. Are we going to do anything about this?


One Response to A troubling trend.

  1. ~fatma says:

    i was walking to the bathroom when i heard the news on radio..i thought i heard “80 charges” but nvm it’s still an unbelievable number nevertheless..and when the dj said “10months” i was so shocked. i thought she’d get at least a year or sth..that’s a whole lot of things she did to the maid..and she may be released earlier if she displays good behavior bla2..
    it doesnt matter if her family isnt coping very well..she should be fully responsible for her actions..so what if she has young kids and her husband has to quit his job..she shouldnt be released early just so that her family can live a normal life..what about the maid? it’s just plain unfair

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