No Action On Sexual Harassment Even After Complaining To Governor, 28-Yr-Old Doctor Commits Suicide
A junior doctor pursuing post graduation at Sri Venkateswara Medical College (SVMC) at Tirupati, committed suicide after she was allegedly sexually harassed by the teaching faculty of her college. As per The Hindu, the junior doctor was facing harassment from quite some time and in April she had even complained to the Vice-Chancellor of NTR University of Health Sciences, state IT Minister Nara Lokesh and district administration. After her death, a panel was formed to look into this matter.
Junior doctor had complained earlier
The 28-year-old doctor who was living in Pileru in Chittoor district would travel daily to Tirupati to attend to her duties. On August 7, she was reportedly found hanging from the ceiling fan in her flat. It is also reported that she did not clear her PG examination, the result of which was announced on August 6.
Her family has alleged that unable to handle the constant harassment she was subjected to, she decided to end her life. Praveen Babu, a member of National Commission for Women (NCW), Andhra Pradesh, while speaking to The Logical Indian said, “She had been facing harassment from some time. Three of the teaching faculties were harassing her. When she complained to authorities, an enquiry was set up, however, no action against any of these faculty members was taken. Her kin has alleged that because she complained, she was failed in her exams. Right now one of the accused faculty members is suspended, action against the two is yet to be taken. Last year too, a medical student from Guntur had set herself ablaze after alleged harassment.”
Inquiry committee being set up after her suicide
As reported by The Hindu, a three-member inquiry committee comprising Director of Medical Education K Babji, K. Babji, Kurnool Medical College Superintendent T. Chandrasekhar and Anantapur Medical College Obstetrics & Gynaecology professor Shamshad Begum was formed. They held a marathon meeting on Wednesday. The committee made note of the series of event with inputs from SVMC principal and other officials.
The atmosphere among the students was quite charged and they even staged a demonstration outside the room where the meeting was going on. They demanded the termination of the main accused, who is also the Head of the paediatrics department, the department from which the deceased junior doctor was pursuing her PG from. They also demanded demotion and transfer of the other two accused.
Nannapaneni Rajakumari, the chairperson of NCW, Andhra Pradesh told The Logical Indian, “The case is handed over to CID. The accused HOD has already been suspended. A committee was in fact formed on the behest of the Governor last month, however, while the inquiry was still going on, she committed suicide.”
Complained in April to the governor
As reported by The Times of India, the junior doctor had also sent a complaint to governor ESL Narasimhan in April. She had mailed the detailed account of the harassment she was facing from the three faculty members. The governor had then demanded an enquiry.
A five-member committee was then set up. Reportedly, the situation for the junior doctor worsened post the complaint. The HOD had denied all the charges and went ahead to file charges against her.
The Logical Indian take
Sexual harassment is an extremely serious and yet extremely prevalent issue. Although the government has issued guidelines and laws, the ground reality is taking time to shift from the entrenched social biases, prejudices and patriarchy.
It is to be noted that students pursuing postgraduate or doctoral studies are often left at the mercy of their faculty. Many times, the mentors or the guides tend to take undue advantage and the suffering student mostly keeps mum about it fearing dire consequences. The doctor in question had in fact revolted against it and complained. However, this did not stop the accused from further harassing her and even allegedly failing her in exams because of the complaint. The Logical Indian hopes that due inquiry is made into this matter and that justice is served while ensuring that proper time-bound mechanisms are set up to prevent these kinds of incidents in future.
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