Orthopaedics department head preyed on young female house officers, sexually harassing and bullying them.
Dirty tricks included:
- Touching and kissing inappropriately
- Demanded housemen went drinking with him and taking advantage of them when they became tipsy
- Putting housemen on 36-hour shifts on consecutive days if they did not submit to his advances
- Blaming victims
The allegations involving sexual abuse against house officers by a hospital department head will be investigated, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon (Jul 29), he said the ministry would investigate the case.
“The Health Ministry will get to the bottom of this. I want to assure you all, especially the aggrieved victims,” he had tweeted.
On Sunday (July 29), The Star reported cases involving sexual harassment and bullying of housemen by an orthopaedics department head in a hospital in the Klang Valley.
The report said the doctor would target young female house officers, who were vulnerable since he has the authority to fail their housemanship.
Medical graduates have to complete their housemanship before they are able to serve as medical officers.
A housemanship usually runs for two years. If house officers are failed by their superiors, they would have to extend their term. A maximum term for a housemanship is three and a half years.
One of the victims interviewed even said that she had lodged a police report last year, but no action was taken.
The 27-year-old victim recounted an incident where the senior doctor summoned her for a meeting and locked the door after she entered the clinic.
“He then grabbed me and started to unbutton my shirt and kiss my lips.
“He said he was going to give me his ‘blessings’. I pushed him away and ran out of the room.
“I was shocked and depressed. I cried, I was disgusted,” she was quoted as saying.
She also claimed that throughout her posting, the doctor had touched her inappropriately, demanding that she went out drinking with him at least twice a week.
“He would tell me to drink almost all the drinks he ordered and would try to grab my breasts after I become tipsy.
“He asked me to send him home so we can continue, but I always managed to find excuses,” she was quoted as saying.
According to the report, the houseman said she felt pressured to comply with his demands as he had threatened to fail her if she did not do as he said.
Another houseman said the department head was relentless in making sexual advances toward her, throughout her six-month stint at the hospital.
“Whenever he is bored, he would call me to his office to talk about sex,” she was quoted as saying.
An incident she cannot forget happened during a physical exercise activity at the hospital.
The department head touched her breasts while she was in an exercise position.
She said he had even gone to her residence and sent photos of it to her via WhatsApp.
A houseman, who had been warned of the department head’s behaviour at the start of her posting, recounted an incident where she needed to take a photo with the department head for a report.
“When I was taking the photo, he pinched me – at the braline.
“I gave him a cold stare to which he said: ‘I can do this because I am a father to you all’,” the houseman was quoted as saying.
She added that he would pester her about bringing along her bikini while they were on a trip to a medical conference in another state, but she did not submit to his request.
She said after realising she would not fall prey to his advances, he started bullying her by putting her on 36-hour shifts on consecutive days.
She revealed that the specialists at the hospital were unable to do anything as they too were afraid of losing their positions.
Yet another houseman said that the department head would “corner” her at the end of her shift, asking her to carry his bag to his car.
“When we were alone, he suddenly said he wanted to take a selfie.
“Since our bodies were close when taking the picture, he kissed my cheek,” she was quoted as saying.
A 32-year-old, who is now a medical officer elsewhere, said the department head would always blame the victims instead.
“One day he invited me out for some drinks, and I felt I could not say ‘no’ so I went along. I was a bit drunk and he then told me to send him back to his house.
“The next morning, I felt uneasy and he accused me of trying to seduce and kiss him instead.
“I was scared of destroying my career, so I didn’t say much and left it at that.
“Many of us had studied hard to enter our housemanship, so we do not want to jeopardise it,” she was quoted as saying.