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PIMS Nurse Being Victimised For Filing Sexual Harassment Case Against Senior Doctor

A senior female nurse at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has appealed to the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination to take notice of the undue pressure being mounted on her by the management for accusing the hospital’s Deputy Executive Director of sexual harassment.

The 54-old-year nurse has registered a sexual-harassment case with Karachi Company police against PIMS Deputy Executive Director Dr Iqbal Durrani. In the FIR, the nurse stated she was on routine duty when Dr Durrani summoned her to his office. When she arrived at his office, the officer attempted to sexually assault her but she escaped from the scene unscathed.

Infuriated by social media trolling and management tactics, the senior nurse says, “If you raise your voice against harassers, you should be ready for your character assassination and other pressure tactics, which is the most easiest weapon that can be used against a woman in this system and society, no matter what stature or age group you are.”

Since her complaint against the DED, she has received at least five notices, including the notice of her transfer from OPD to the Emergency section of the hospital.

The 54-year-old nurse said she is suffering many health related problems and her posting in the emergency section is unfair treatment by the management as per the government set rules on the humanitarian grounds.

The nurse said that she is not only being victimised at the hand of the hospital management but also faces online abuse on social media.

The PIMS management has served two show cause, two inquiry related notices and one for her transfer from OPD to Emergency section of the hospital since her harassment complaint with the management.

According to the government adopted rules on humanitarian grounds, senior staff was not being deputed on duty in the emergency section, owing to the age related health problems.

Similarly, as per the government set rules, a four-member fact-finding committee, led by a grade-21 or above officer with no less than 10 year of professional experience, should be constituted for the probe to keep the fact collecting process transparent. But according to the nurse, a three-member committee, led by a grade-18 or 19 officer who is working under the suspected deputy executive director, is leading the fact-finding committee.

She said the case is with the police and instead of pursuing it on a legal front she is being victimized in the hospital. She said she has been serving the nursing profession for the past 28 years, and that she never indulged herself in such kinds of matters.

Deputy Executive Director Dr Iqbal Durrani, when approached, termed the harassment allegation a pre-planned strategy of the female nurse against him.

Dr Iqbal Durrani said that he was in the meeting with 12 visiting members when the senior nurse arrived in the room with some personal documents in hand.

According to Durrani, when he asked the reason for her arrival during a meeting she asked why he had sent her dues-related documents for verification. When he argued she started shouting during the meeting upon which he called guards to take her away.

Dr Durrani further said the fact-finding committee has collected all evidence which turned the incident against the nurse and the committee is soon calling an inquiry committee against her.

The hospital management has issued a circular barring the hospital staff from commenting on the issue and talking to the media.

When this correspondent approached other staff members for their comment on the matter, they refused to comment but agreed that sexual harassment is a common occurrence in the management but female staff avoid complaining harassment acts against them due to the stigma associated with reporting the crime.

Besides, there was a general consensus that a high-level fact-finding committee should be formed to maintain neutrality and transparency of the inquiry.

According to Harassment of Women at Work Place Act 2013, organizations are bound to form harassment committees at departmental level comprising neutral and credibly senior officials so that women can report their complaint against harassers at their work place but according to the sources no such committee exists on the ground in the hospital.

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