Hyderabad: Though it has been alleged often enough that nurses are often sexually harassed at their work place, none of them has filed an official complaint. So when a nurse working in a government community health centre in Nellore broke the silence and registered a complaint against a doctor who harassed her while she was on night duty on February 11, it was a brave act and might encourage others to come out into the open too.
It is apt that this has occurred in the year 2020 which WHO is celebrating as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer in women's nursing. The nurse who made the complaint said, “My brother and my husband supported me when I told them.
Many nurses too came and gave me reassurance. There have been many complaints against that doctor, but no one came forward to take the matter to the authorities. If everyone keeps silent then the next generation of nurses too will suffer.”
Indeed, many nurses and nursing associations have come forward in her support. Says Swarajya Vani, Trade Nurses TS Secretary: “I have been in this profession for 33 years. Earlier there was a very good rapport between nurses and doctors. It’s very sad to see such incidents are taking place now. We keep hearing this from nurses that these kinds of incidents occur. Most nurses are scared to launch complaints for various reasons. But if someone comes with a complaint to our association, we will extend all our support.”
Haritha K,, a nurse in a corporate hospital says when nurses complain about sexual harassment by the doctors, they get no support, not even from their own colleagues. “Doctors always have the upper hand. Even the management supports them. That is the reason those incidents are not brought to light. We demand basic protection and basic reorganisation,” she said.
Doctors are slow to acknowledge the fact that some of their fraternity could misbehave.
Dr Narendar Reddy, secretary, TS Indian Medical Association says, “This is a very sensitive issue. IMA will not support any such doctor who is involved in such acts. I am not sure but there must be some percentage in of such doctors.”
Dr U. Ramakrishan, retired joint director, Health Department dismisses the allegation out of hand: “There are stringent laws. What are the situations, if one person doesn’t agree, how can someone force. I also worked in all the district hospitals in my initial days. Such incidents are rare and there is no one side forcing, which cannot be called as harassment or exploitation.”...