Pakistani nurses vulnerable to sexual harassment

August 5th, 2012 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 5 (IANS) Young women medical professionals and nurses in Pakistan are among the many groups vulnerable to workplace violence and sexual harassment, a leading Pakistani daily said Sunday.

Despite this, public and private healthcare centres in the country have no arrangements to prevent the women from becoming targets, the Dawn reported.

The federal government - through the “Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act” passed in March 2010 - made provisions for the protection of women against harassment, including sexual advances, sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference in work or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment at the workplace.

But there has been no follow-up to the government’s move, and many public sector hospitals have not yet constituted committees to inquire into such complaints, the daily said.

Shanila Jalaluddin, a lecturer at the Liaquat College of Nursing in Karachi, conducted a survey on nurses’ safety and security in three hospitals in the city.

She found that over 31 percent of respondents reported experiencing physical violence, and verbal and sexual harassment over a period of 12 months.

Only three percent respondents reported the incidents, while 28.5 percent did nothing at all.

The respondents who experienced frequent physical violence or verbal abuse said they feared retaliation and lack of support from the hospital administration.

Rozina Somani, an instructor at the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery, also conducted a research on workplace violence towards nurses at two government and two private hospitals in Karachi.

She said physical violence as well as bullying was significant in public sector hospitals, while verbal abuse dominated in private hospitals.

Patients, relatives, and staff members were found to be the main perpetrators of workplace violence against nurses, she said.

But the incidents were under-reported due to fear, shame and guilt.

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