Victim family on the horns of dilemma – Sexual harassment in Nishter
MULTAN, April 18,2005: The woman, who was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by a senior doctor at the Nishter Hospital, has been living in trying circumstances after complaining against the crime as the Chief Minister’s Secretariat is learnt to have been coerced by some influential people to delay an action.
The victim and her husband told Dawn that they were being pressured by all possible means to withdraw their complaint they had lodged against Prof Dr Ashiq Pervez with the Nishter Medical College and Hospital authorities.
The complainant, a teacher of English language and literature at a state-run postgraduate college, had alleged in an application submitted to the NMC&H principal executive officer that in the last week of March his son had to undergo surgery on his broken knee at the hospital and they were in the family ward of the hospital for the purpose when Dr Ashiq, a professor of orthopaedics, tried to sexually abuse his wife. He also threatened her that in case of ‘non-cooperation’ any thing could happen to their son.
The NMC&H authorities had forwarded the complaint to the Punjab Health Department for an appropriate action against the suspect. The provincial authorities reportedly further forwarded the case to the CM’s secretariat, recommending suspension of the professor and an inquiry into his conduct.
However, since then there has been no progress on the issue and, as the complainant says, someone at the CM’s office seems to be trying to delay action to give more and more time to the culprit and his cronies to build pressure on them to withdraw the application.
During a recent visit to Multan, the Punjab health minister had told journalists that the outcome of the ongoing investigation against Dr Ashiq would soon be made public.
He had also said in a newspaper interview that a committee had been constituted to probe allegations against the doctor. However, neither the complainant nor the NMC&H authorities has any knowledge about the inquiry committee.
A top official of the Multan Development Authority, who has allegedly enjoyed irregular promotions throughout his career, has been spearheading the campaign to gag the complainant while a former Punjab health minister, who claims to be the ideologue of the present system of the medical education in the province, and the personal staff officer of a federal minister were reportedly using their influence to intimidate the authorities to put off action against the alleged culprit.
The victim’s father is said to be a retired police officer and, therefore, the MDA top notch has been wooing a number serving and retired police officers to exert pressure on the complainant to withdraw the application.
A Haram Gate Circle police official, who has allegedly been awarded out-of-turn promotions, is also intimidating the victim family to budge from their stand against sexual harassment.
A common thing shared by the MDA official, the police official and the PSO to the federal minister is that they all allegedly enjoyed benediction of a same political powerhouse of the south Punjab. The PSO is actually an employee of the Punjab irrigation department and he has currently been serving in the federal government on deputation on the minister’s desire.
His brother is a doctor, who owned a private hospital on the Khanewal Road in Multan and Dr Ashiq is said to operate patients only at that hospital, besides the Nishter Hospital. The private hospital is also infamous for the incidence of sexual harassment.
The complainant said he and his wife were taking stand to expose the incidence of sexual harassment at the hospitals and clinics, but it seemed that the government wanted to discourage them by delaying justice.