A Singaporean couple have been jailed for a “systematic pattern of violence and psychological abuse” against a maid, including forcing her to eat her own vomit and making her clean the floor in only her bra and shorts.

Chia Yun Ling, 43, was given a total prison term of three years and 11 months and fined S$4,000 (US$2,961) for mistreating Myanmar worker Moe Moe Than, 31. She was also ordered to pay S$6,500 (US$4,812) in compensation.

Tay Wee Kiat, 41, was jailed for two years and told to pay compensation of S$3,000 (US$2,221) to Than for his role in the pattern of abuse.

The district court earlier heard that Than was given only rice on its own or with sugar as her daily food and told to sleep on a mattress without a pillow or blanket. When she asked for more food, Chia forced a mixture of rice and sugar down her throat, then told her to vomit the food in a plastic bag and eat it.

Than was allowed to go to the toilet only three times a day, with Chia constantly monitoring her movements on a closed circuit television. If she went more than three times she was punished, including being told to jump like a rabbit.

“The deprivation of a basic human right to manage one’s bodily functions strikes at the core of one’s dignity and was clearly detrimental to the victim’s health and welfare,” said Judge Oliva Low . “The fact that the victim had been punished when she used the toilet for a fourth time in a day meant that this was not merely a verbal threat by Chia.”

Judge cites ‘ill-treatment by humiliation’

Than was also instructed to remove her blouse and clean the house wearing only her bra and shorts, which the judge described as “ill-treatment by humiliation without having regard to the victim’s welfare”.

Evidence was given that she was caned, hit with a broomstick and kicked while  in a push-up position. Than and another maid were told to slap each other.

Chia and Tay were also convicted on March 4 of abusing the second maid, an  Indonesian called Fitriyah, 34. Tay was jailed for 43 months, increased from 28 months on appeal, and Chia for two months.

The couple have asked for leniency due to economic hardship, health issues and caretaking difficulties, with defence counsel Wee Pan Lee indicating they had  “exhausted all their resources in connection with this trial”. However, the judge said these were “of little mitigating value”.

“There was no evidence of remorse shown given that the two domestic workers were not spared the ordeal of testifying in a full trial,” she said.

However, the judge did agree to defer the sentences for two weeks so that  domestic arrangements could be made for the couple’s children.

Read: Couple guilty of abusing another worker