Monday November 28, 2022

JPMC panel to probe allegations of female doctor’s harassment

September 19, 2021
JPMC panel to probe allegations of female doctor’s harassment

KARACHI: The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s (JPMC) administration has constituted a four-member inquiry committee to probe into the allegations of harassment levelled by Assistant Professor and gastroenterologist Dr Nazish Butt, who said she was being harassed and blackmailed on gender and ethnic grounds and being forced to quit job.

“I have constituted a four-member committee comprising Prof Tariq Mahmood, dean of the JPMC, Prof Syed Masroor Ahmed, Prof Khadija Bano and Dr Nausheen Rauf to probe into the allegations levelled by Dr Nazish Butt,” Executive Director JPMC Prof Shahid Rasool told The News on Saturday. Prof Rasool said Prof Mahmood would be the chairman of the committee, which would meet on Monday, September 20, at 10am, and after hearing Dr Butt and conducting a detailed inquiry, it would submit its report to him for further action.

“There is zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment at the JPMC. If anybody is found harassing any staff member, they would not be spared,” he vowed.

On the other hand, several senior professors confirmed to The News that not only Dr Butt but many other female doctors and staff members were facing harassment and discrimination on grounds of ethnicity and religion.

“I personally know that Dr Nazish Butt has been subjected to intense harassment for quite some time and she was trying to bear it, but I think it must have become too much to handle.

She is a good doctor, who is doing her job with honesty and dedication to serve the people of Sindh,” said Prof Dr AR Jamali, who has recently retired from the JPMC.

Even former JPMC executive director Dr Seemin Jamali confirmed the culture of harassment as prevalent at the Institute, saying that some doctors and staff members did not even spare her when she headed the hospital. She said it was high time these people were given a “shut-up call” from all quarters. Another female doctor, who requested anonymity, said female doctors were facing discrimination not only on the basis of ethnicity but also on the basis of gender and religion, and praised Dr Butt for taking the bold stance and raising the voice against the discrimination.

Narrating her ordeal, Dr Nazish Butt said “I’m incharge of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Ward at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the only female gastroenterologist working at any public sector hospital in entire Pakistan. I have been harassed and blackmailed for the last several months on grounds of my gender and ethnicity.” She showed several WhatsApp and Facebook messages sent to her, accusing her of being a “non-Sindhi” and “a draconian lady,” who is not allowing “natives of the Sindh province” to work at the gastroenterology ward of the JPMC.

She said “she is constantly receiving threatening phone calls from unknown numbers and written messages, calling her to quit job.”

“First of all, I’m a Pakistani citizen who was born in Karachi, studied and graduated from the Sindh Medical College and it is my right to work here. Besides I am married to a Sindhi-speaking person, but still some people, including some staff members of the JPMC continue to vax and pester me. They are indulging in negative propaganda against me, which has disturbed me mentally,” an anguished Dr Butt said.

According to a recent study, Pakistan lacks trained and qualified female gastroenterologists despite the fact that over 80 percent of medical students who graduate from medical colleges are girls. In a conservative society like Pakistan, most women avoid visiting male doctors or their families don’t allow male doctors to perform any intervention or surgical procedures on their female relatives. Against this backdrop, it would be a bad idea to lose an experienced specialist.