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Zaihan Mohamed Yusof
Thursday, Nov 6, 2014

Singapore

Two-year-old tells worried mummy the family helper beat him

The New Paper | Zaihan Mohamed Yusof | Thursday, Nov 6, 2014

Her heart sank after she was told the news.

The childcare teacher was at a cafe with her husband on holiday in Paris, France.

Her mother's phone call relaying the dreadful news that her two-year-old son had been abused by the family's maid hit her hard.

"I had no mood to continue with the holiday. All I wanted to do was to return to Singapore as soon as possible. I wanted to see for myself if my son was all right," the toddler's mother, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Ng, told The New Paper yesterday.

She learnt later that a plastic Lego container cover and a T-shirt had been used to beat her son, Ryden, at the family flat in Hougang.

Yesterday, the Indonesian maid, Bahija Tunnisa, 24, was convicted and sentenced to four months' jail for ill-treating the boy.

A medical report showed he had suffered 12 injuries ranging from bruises to his face, thigh, shoulder and buttocks to a scratch on his left forearm.

TRAUMA

But the boy's grandmother, Madam Lim Siew Lian, said the mental scars ran deeper.

She made a police report on June 27 after a neighbour told her that she had witnessed Ryden's beating. Bahija previously denied any wrongdoing.

"Ten days after the abuse, (Ryden) fell sick with stomach flu and had nightmares for more than a week. He would also wake up screaming asking for his mother or me," said Madam Lim, 55, a full-time tuition teacher.

The little boy was also traumatised at the prospect of getting another "auntie".

When Madam Lim told Ryden that a new "auntie" would be coming to look after him and his elder brother, he protested.

"He said he didn't want any auntie. So we told him not to worry. We will hire a jie jie (elder sister in Mandarin) to look after him," said Madam Lim.

The long-haired Bahija was emotionless as she stood in the dock yesterday afternoon.

The court heard that on June 26 she was alone with Ryden and his four-year-old brother when Madam Lim called her at around 4pm to tell her to get the boys ready to go out.

SNAPPED

When Ryden refused to change his clothes or listen to her instructions, Bahija snapped.

She grabbed an 18cm-long yellow Lego container cover and used it to hit the boy's face, head and torso several times. She also used a T-shirt to hit the crying toddler's torso several times.

When the judge asked Bahija yesterday if she had anything to say, she just shook her head and said, "No".

Mrs Ng said she still finds it hard to believe that Bahija was capable of such acts.

She knew that her son adored Bahija. It was normal for him to run across the living room to hug the Indonesian helper.

Ryden had denied being hit by Bahija when questioned by his grandmother.

But when Mrs Ng asked him after her return from France four days later, the boy said, "1,2,3...piak. Auntie beat me".

Added Madam Lim: "His innocent description broke my daughter's heart. What makes me angry is that he loved her (Bahija) very much, yet she betrayed the trust."

Bahija could have been fined up to $4,000 and/or jailed up to four years for ill-treating the toddler.

zaihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on November 4, 2014.
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