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Date: 12.09.2014

Nurses of AIIMS protest against assault on female nurse of New Emergency Ward
FIR lodged Hauz Khas PS against the concerned patient’s relatives

In yet another disturbing incident of the precarious conditions in which nurses are performing their duties, the capital city’s premiere medical institution, AIIMS, reported a serious case of physical assault of a female nurse by visiting relatives of a patient admitted in the hospital’s New Emergency Ward. The incident occurred on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. when the female nurse on night duty asked five visitors of a patient, Mr. Sunil Kumar, to leave the New Emergency Ward as it was against the hospital policy to have more than one relative in the Ward at any given time. The female nurse, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, unfortunately became a victim of extremely aggressive behaviour on the part of two of the patient’s female relatives. Although the nurse maintained polite body language and asked them to calm down and step out of the ward, the situation merely worsened. One of the accused female visitors hit the nurse and has left strangulation marks on her throat.

The incident left the AIIMS nurses on duty highly enraged, and they called a spontaneous strike that lasted until the Hauz Khas police filed the FIR. The nurses’ representatives met the Director of AIIMS, who has promised to follow up the case with the Police (Please find attached a copy of the FIR).

The incident, however, is not one of its kind and is indicative of the hostile conditions of work that persist across hospitals, nursing homes, etc. In particular, such incidents are the result of larger problems like crumbling infrastructure in government hospitals and the significant shortage of nursing staff. In the case of the lack of adequate nursing staff, relatives and patient’s visitors become more prone to aggressive behaviour and impatience. Such shortage encourages the patients and their relatives to be believe that the hospital staff are ‘deliberately overlooking’ their needs/requests or are ‘simply throwing their weight around’, which is of course far from true. Misbehaviour and assaults are also spreading due to the lack of adequate infrastructure in government hospitals, such as waiting rooms/lobbies for patient’s relatives to rest/wait in. In the process, it is hapless nurses, very often female nurses, who then bear the brunt of visitors’ and patients’ anger/frustration.

Of course, as noted by Chinglen Khumukcham, of the North East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS), many working persons from the North East are very easily made targets of racist comments and assaults. This is especially so with North East women, like female nurses, etc. who are considered as ‘docile’ and ‘different’, and are therefore easily harassed. This assault in particular, according to NEFIS, was racist in nature since the accused kept pointing out to her physical features when attacking her. Similarly, Maya John from Centre for Struggling Women (CSW) noted that the larger exploitative trend of nurses’ working conditions and poor conditions of healthcare was allowing government hospitals to continuously expose their women work force to risks like assaults, sexual harassment, etc.

Chinglen Khumukcham
North East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS)
Ph: 7838983871

Maya John
Centre for Struggling Women (CSW)
Ph: 9350272637

Below is copy of FIR for the case:



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