Hanoi woman sentenced to jail for torturing housemaid

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A Hanoi court on Wednesday sentenced a woman to 18 months in jail for torturing an elderly housemaid, including forcing the maid to eat feces.

Tran Thi Tuyet Minh, 48, of Ba Dinh District was found guilty of torturing Pham Thi Phuong, 59, between last September and January this year.

Phuong was hired to work as a housemaid for Minh last September with a monthly salary of VND1.5 million. After two weeks of work, Phuong was criticized by Minh as slow, clumsy and untidy.

Minh repeatedly yelled at Phuong and hit her in the head and face with her hands, sandals and even glasses whenever she was unpleased with her work.

Things got worse in November when Minh caught Phuong eating some biscuits from the altar. Minh then forced Phuong to eat her grandchild's feces from a diaper.

In late December, Minh forced Phuong into a bathroom and made her take off her clothes when she refused to take a bath. Minh then turned the water heater to the maximum temperature and sprayed hot water on Phuong's belly and vagina.

Phuong was seriously burned, but Minh forbad her from going to the doctor. Instead, Minh bought a bottle of burn medicine for Phuong and locked her in the house.

On January 2, Minh forced Phuong to eat 20 hot chilies because she said Phuong usually stole food to eat.

After Minh caught Phuong throwing the chilies under her bed, she made Phuong pick them up and eat them all. She then forced Phuong to drink a glass of hot water, making her mouth burn.

Two days later, Minh gave Phuong VND1 million and called a xe om (motorbike taxi) to take her to the bus station to go back to her hometown in Ung Hoa District.

"Minh told me not to tell my family about the burns and other wounds, and to tell them I fell down the stairs, otherwise she would hire gangsters to hurt my family," Phuong told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

In exchange for her freedom, Phuong said she was forced by Minh to write a note admitting that she owed Minh VND5 million.

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"She did not pay my four month's wages before I left. She even searched my stuff and grabbed my VND1.9 million savings, which I had earned while working for the previous mistress," Phuong said in tears.

After Phuong came home, her family discovered the wounds and rushed her to the hospital. Phuong told her family the whole story and reported the case to local police.

Minh's family has given Phuong VND120 million as compensation.

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