Harrassment of female M.O.s in Nepal, a case study.


Update: got 280 hits in the first eight hours. Please share on FaceBook. Feel free to send anonymous stories about this topic.

At the end of my last blog, I requested readers to send stories about the incidents in which they were harassed or threatened because they were a doctor. Here is one of the replies. A doctor was harassed and it led to an arrest. It is lightly edited – I separated it into paragraphs and changed some punctuation. The write gave me permission to publish it here and I told her I would remove her name and specific reference to location.

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“I am working as a MO in _____ Zonal Hospital, ______ since past 4 months on the 2 year bond through DOHS. On 2074/05/06 I along with another female MO, 2 of us were on duty in the ER, at around 11 pm a male in his mid 30’s along with his mother & wife visited the ER bringing their female relative with C/O sudden chest discomfort, was a K/C/O MR referred to Kathmandu from ______ (as far as I remember) who was going to Ktm the next day. While I was attending the patient in the dressing room (because no vacant bed was available in the ER main room) another male MO who was not on duty came to visit me for some personal work & he was patiently waiting at the dressing room door.

“Ever since they came he & his mother were complaining about the sanitation of the hospital & all. He even took pictures of the hospital boasting that he was a journalist of some kind. We kept ignoring them because if we start addressing every complain we would go crazy working here. But when he kept complaining for quite a while our male MO responded politely saying that we admit our hospital is not very clean but looking at the no of patients we receive everyday its not possible to keep it all neat & tidy at that time of night. He angrily replied that its just an excuse & if we aren’t capable of doing so we should just resign & someone worthy will replace us.

“I couldn’t resist so I intervened & said if you have any complain regarding patient care I will address it immediately but about sanitation please report to the administration next morning or being a reporter address it through your channel. Instead of listening he told me to shut up & do my job & brought out his id card boasting about being a radio station manager or something. Our male MO told me I have right to refuse seeing his patient but I didn’t feel right in making the patient suffer because of a foolish visitor like him so I left the dressing room & ordered an ECG.

“He followed me to the ER & started complaining again. I told him not to disturb my other patients he arrogantly replied that the hospital is not my personal property to stop him from talking. I asked one of the HA to inform the hospital police on duty (who usually are around the ER but sometimes go on a stroll within the hospital premises).The so called journalist now told me try not to scare him with police threat & came & sat in the chair inside the ER booth. I handed over his patient to another female MO to take 2nd opinion on the ECG from our on call consultant. I went outside the ER where our male MO was & he again followed us. Our male MO told him to stop creating a scene there but instead he said he would slap him for pointing fingers at him & verbally harassed us. Even his mother & wife couldn’t stop him from blabbering.

“Quite surprisingly all along he didn’t even cared or asked us how his patient was being treated. The hospital on duty police informed the local police & they arrested him while his mother & wife were trying to make him escape. Our another female MO on duty performed the drunkenness examination found it to be negative (no breathalyzer or any blood/urine test available in the hospital). I took a picture of the guy during that time & the police took him to the custody. I was so disturbed after this incident I couldn’t attend a single patient afterwards.

“Next day early morning we were informed he was out on bail by some another journalist who came to the hospital alone as a mediator & was asking us to compromise. We narrated the whole incident to our medical superintendent & he advised us to inform NMA far-west branch. The NMA meeting ended with the conclusion that if he is ready to apologize lets not exaggerate the matter & focus on measures to be taken to prevent such future mishaps.

“Struggling without food & sleep at around 1 pm I finally came back to my relatives house few minutes away from the hospital (as I am originally from Kathmandu & I haven’t gotten a quarter in the hospital yet) I was called to the hospital again for some emergency meeting. I rushed to the administration office but I had no idea that the so called journalist was the one who called the meeting & as soon as I entered he started demanding that I take as much time as I want but I should apologize in written for putting him in custody the whole night, for taking his picture without his consent & for using the word harassment. He was repeatedly demanding to delete his photo right in front of him. I told him I am legally unaware if its wrong to take his picture I ll find out & if it is wrong I ll apologize & delete it later but for mobilizing the hospital police & saying you verbally harassed us I won’t apologize at all.

“He now started accusing me that I am taking advantage of being a female & I unnecessarily intervened while he was arguing with our male MO last night. I told him I have every right to take a stand for my fellow staff. He & his mediator furiously stormed out saying if I don’t compromise he might file a case against me in cyber crime & for defaming him. After he left we decided to have a meeting without him the next day as in 2074/05/08 to decide how to move forward with this. So in today’s meeting almost everyone supported my decision that I should give no any written or verbal apology but I should delete his picture in his presence.& if he is apologetic lets end this matter if not we ll also fight back. Till now no any other response from the another side.

“I am still persistent on the thing that I won’t apologize under any circumstances.

Should we just accept the apology if it comes from him (which I highly doubt) & let it go or take other steps?

Is taking a photo under such circumstance legally wrong?

Is there no such thing as verbal harassment?

Is he just trying to suppress me because I am not a native from here?

Is there anything I should actually apologize for?

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I replied via email to say I thought she handled it correctly. She got backup, the administrators got involved early, the police were called and removed the guy.

I will refrain from further commentary because I would like to hear from readers as to their assessment of this situation. How common is it? What to do?

If you wish your reply to be anonymous, send to joeniemczura@gmail.com and I will remove name etc before posting.

Addendum: I do want to point out that in this incident, the male M.O.s seem to have supported their colleague. The incident happened months ago, but we just finished Bhai Tika.  All the males in this story deserve this:

bhai tikaThe male colleagues of this story seem to merit a special bhai tika. sometimes we take this meaning of these ceremonies for granted. Yes, women should stand on their own two feet; but aren’t we all here to help each other?

 

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About Joe Niemczura, RN, MS

These blogs, and my books, and videos are written on the principle that any person embarking on something similar to what I do will gain more preparation than I first had, by reading them. I have fifteen years of USA nursing faculty background. Add to it fifteen more devoted to adult critical care. In Nepal, I started teaching critical care skills in 2011. I figure out what they need to know in a Nepali practice setting. Then I teach it in a culturally appropriate way so that the boots-on-the-ground people will use it. One theme of my work has been collective culture and how it manifests itself in anger. Because this was a problem I incorporated elements of "situational awareness" training from the beginning, in 2011.
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3 Responses to Harrassment of female M.O.s in Nepal, a case study.

  1. From blog owner: I got an email reply from a person who wished me to change name:

    “In just not even 6 months of working as a MO in Nepal I have experienced & heard so many similar incidents..Even the recent case of (publicized in newspaper ) manhandling. Due to all this I feel I am losing interest in clinical medicine & surgery & I should shift to public health/hospital administration or minor clinical subjects like dermatology ,ENT or radiology where I won’t have to deal with patients directly.”

    I guess it should be obvious that the perpetrator of the threats is usually male. I don’t know how often the doctor is a woman. Here is an example of males trying to intimidate females in Nepal.

  2. manohar joshi says:

    of course, you must not apologize for anything. YES, so called local person may try to misbehave new comers but we must stay strong. UNITY IS MOST STRONG.

    • I agree. Once the man was arrested, I also think he should not have been allowed to speak with you or meet with you and all contact should be cut off. In USA this would be called “victim intimidation” and it is also a crime. I think any #JailWithoutBail law needs to also include a remedy for this and directions to the police as to how to handle it.

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