78-year-old woman denies scalding domestic worker with hot water

(Left) Gee Hoo-giok walking out of District Court. She has been accused of scalding her domestic worker Ismati (right). Screengrabs via Apple Daily.

A 78-year-old woman is on trial for allegedly splashing hot water on her Indonesian domestic worker after an argument in which the she blamed the victim for her ailing husband’s death.

Gee Hoo-giok denied one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent against 29-year-old Ismiati last year. She also denied a second charge of violating the Employment Compensation Ordinance.

According to Apple Daily, Ismiati signed a contract with Gee through an employment agency on January 24, and her working visa was approved by the Immigration Department on March 24, 2017.

Ismiati told the court that there wasn’t a communication problem between herself and Gee as her employer is Indonesian Chinese and understands Bahasa.

Ismiati told the court that she started work with Gee at her home in Lai Tak Tsuen in Tai Hang on March 27, one day after Gee’s husband passed away.

Gee reportedly blamed Ismiati for her husband’s death, saying that if only she had started work early, he would still be alive. Ismiati did not reply back, the court heard.

On.cc reports that on her second day working for Gee, Ismiati told the court that her employer called her “stupid” for forgetting to bring her water bottle when she accompanied her during he morning exercise in Victoria Park.

On day three, while Ismiati was cooking dinner, Gee entered the kitchen and said she was cooking too slowly, repeating again that she was hired to look after her sick husband and that if only she started working for them earlier, he would still be alive.

It was at this point that Ismiati clapped back saying she couldn’t start work before obtaining a visa, adding that her husband was going to die anyway.

Ismiati continued cooking but suddenly felt hot water on her back splashed onto her back and she fell to the floor. She turned around and saw Gee standing behind her. The domestic worker then asked Gee why she splashed her with hot water and demanded she call the employment agency, but Gee ignored her.

After Ismiati managed to get on the phone with the employment agency, Gee ordered the domestic worker to pack her bags and leave. In the meantime, Gee’s daughter reported the case to the police, and Ismiati was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital where doctors found moderate burns and blisters on her back, accounting for up to 5 percent of her skin.

Apple Daily reports that Ismiati had to spend four days in the Accident and Emergency unit.

Under cross-examination, the court heard that Ismiati first arrived in Hong Kong on January 13, 2017 to work for a couple, but left the job after one day when she had a glass bottle thrown at her. The case was reported to the Indonesia consulate general.

When the defense lawyer questioned Ismiati about the compensation her previous employer gave her — HK$4,500 (US$574) she was given for a round-trip ticket, and HK$100 (US$13) to cover travel expenses — she replied that she did not know about the money.

The trial continues.

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