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SINGAPORE - The startling details of mother and daughter Maimunah Ahmad and Daliana Abdullah abusing their Indonesian maid, Ms Puteri Andanari, 26, made headlines last week.
Ms Puteri was slapped multiple times, had her hair pulled and her head slammed against the wall. These acts of abuse allegedly happened within a few months of her arriving in Singapore to work as a maid for Daliana, 40, and her mother Maimunah, 80.
What drives such employers to sadistic acts of violence against their helpers? And can they ever live down the shame?
One former horrific maid abuser, Miss Sarah Schmitzkova, regrets what she did and is trying to make up for her crime.
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Four years have passed since she faced the wrath of the public for abusing her Indonesian domestic helper, Ms Badingah.
Then, her family was seen as "evil" for the torture they had inflicted on Ms Badingah. They are still mostly shunned today.
This family of three and another woman had attacked the maid so badly that she jumped three floors from the flat to escape their attacks.
Miss Sarah - one of the four convicted of the assault - told The New Paper she does not blame people for thinking of her family as "monsters".
"We did something wrong and it was widely reported about how evil my family is," the 24-year-old said in an interview on Nov 15 at her family's rented three-room flat at Jalan Minyak, near Outram Road.
hen known as Muhammad Iz'aan Mohd Sazali before she went for a sex-change operation, she was jailed for six weeks in 2008 for caning the maid.
She is now director of a Muslim undertaker company, which was started by her mother, Madam Maselly Abdul Aziz, in 1995.
"We have learnt our lesson and now we are moving on to be better people," said Miss Sarah.
Miss Sarah, who was a waiter at the time of the offences, may have got off lightly with the six-week sentence.
The violent attacks by her mother, her sister and her mother's lover were far worse by comparison.
The injuries suffered by Ms Badingah - a petite woman who is just 1.5m tall - were horrific. She suffered extensive injuries to her chest, back, arms and inner thighs.
Boiling water was poured over her genitals.
Miss Sarah's sister, Ms Nur Rizan Mohd Sazali, 22, used pliers to pull out Ms Badingah's two front teeth.
On July 26, 2007, the maid decided she could take no more and jumped out of the kitchen window of the third-storey HDB flat at Outram Road.
She ran barefoot to nearby Hotel Miramar and received help. It led to her tormentors being caught and brought to justice.
Besides Miss Sarah, her mother, Maselly, 42, lover Elsa Elyana Said, 28, and sister Nur Rizan were all found guilty of abusing Ms Badingah, then 31.
Ms Nur Rizan, who was 18 then, was sentenced to two years and two months for extracting Ms Badingah's teeth and pouring hot wax over the maid's head.
Ms Elsa, who was described in court documents as Maselly's lesbian lover, was jailed for a year and five months for punching the maid and helping to pull out her teeth.
The media attention from the trial was intense, said Miss Sarah, who went through gender reassignment surgery in Thailand in 2009 and is now a woman.
She told TNP that she changed her name to Sarah Schmitzkova, taking the last name of her stepfather, who is Russian.
Miss Sarah declined to reveal more about her stepfather, who is 51 years old.
"He married my mother two or three years ago, but they are now separated and he went back to Russia," she added.
Throughout the interview, Miss Sarah was relaxed, friendly and candid.
She said she is fine if the world sees them as wicked.
She spoke to TNP because she wanted to set the record straight. She maintains that "a dispute" with the maid triggered the abuse.
The family was then angry and wanted to punish the maid for allegedly hurting Miss Sarah's youngest sister, now 10 years old.
She said: "My mum is loud and she likes to nag, so when my sister complained of being hurt, she got agitated and things got out of hand."
"We should have reported the abuse to the police, but our mistake was that we took matters into our own hands," she added softly.
Ms Elsa and Ms Nur Rizan have also completed their jail sentences.
Ms Nur Rizan still lives with the family but Miss Sarah said the family has lost contact with Ms Elsa.
But Maselly - who the court said instigated the "systematic torture" of Ms Badingah - is serving her three-year jail sentence.
The divorcee's appeal to the High Court against conviction and sentence was dismissed earlier this year.
She began her prison term two months ago, said Miss Sarah.
But as forthcoming as she was, Miss Sarah, who got engaged two months ago, became more reticent when asked to recount the incident.
Did they know that what did they was inhuman?
She sat quietly in her living room, her hands clasped, as if to keep herself composed. "My family is not crazy," came her reply after a lengthy pause.
But unlike her mother - who showed no sign of remorse or repentance at her trial in 2009 - Miss Sarah does regret what happened.
"Whenever I think back over what happened, I think what we did was inhumane and brutal... We took matters into our own hands," she said with a sigh.
"We (the family) have made attempts to reach out to her (Ms Badingah), but we heard she moved back to Indonesia."
Ms Badingah has since returned to her home in Central Java. Miss Sarah is now making amends in other ways.
Earlier this year, she was inspired by her own experience to set up Jannatul Society, a non-profit organisation which gives assistance to children of convicts.
The society was registered under the Societies Act on June 13. She claims that Jannatul Society has helped 42 families since it was formed.
"What I am doing now for the community is (an attempt) to redeem my family," said Miss Sarah.
"People will still remember us as the family who pulled out their maid's teeth. (But) I hope people can look past that and know that we are moving on to do better things."