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Value maids, counsel abusers

I refer to the report "Woman jailed 11 years after abuse left maid with deformed nose, scars" (The New Paper, Aug 2).

I was shocked beyond words to read of the abuse suffered by Ms Khanifa, an Indonesian mother of two from Indramayu in West Java, at the hands of her employers, a husband and wife here.

Due to the six months of physical abuse, the 39-year-old domestic helper has a deformed left ear, permanent and prominent scars on her forehead, on the back of her head and across her shoulders.

Her left little finger is functionally impaired.

Justice has now been served with a judge sentencing Zariah Mohd Ali, 58, to 11 years in jail, and her husband Mohamad Dahlan to 15 months' jail. They were also ordered to compensate Ms Khanifa.

Zariah's punishment may have been the most severe sentence handed down for maid abuse in Singapore, but more needs to be done.

Not only should such convicted abusers be banned from employing domestic workers ever again, they should be required to undergo counselling, both during and after their jail terms.

With Singapore's rapidly ageing population, domestic workers have a vital role in helping families cope with caregiving, and they must be valued.

These workers make big sacrifices, leaving their families back home to earn better wages in Singapore, and we should treat them with kindness and understanding.

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