‘Sexually Harassed, Abused Over Caste’: AIIMS Doc Attempts Suicide

The doctor had written multiple complaint letters to the authorities and three investigations were already underway.

3 min read
The doctor had written multiple complaint letters to the authorities and three investigations were already underway.

A senior resident doctor at Delhi’s AIIMS Centre for Dental Education and Research (CDER) tried to end her life on Friday, 17 April, allegedly over sexual and caste-based harassment by faculty members in her department.

On Friday, after the female doctor allegedly took an overdose of medication, she had to be admitted to the ICU. Her condition is stable and she is recovering, AIIMS Registrar Dr. Lalwani said on Monday.

What Actions Did AIIMS Take on the Multiple Complaints?

The doctor had raised the issue with AIIMS administration multiple times, according to a letter written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan by the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of AIIMS.

Alleging inaction by the hospital authorities, the letter written by the association on Sunday read, "Despite multiple letter (dated 16.03.2020, 22.03.2020, 23.03.2020), there has been no adequate action taken to address this issue of grabe concern and eventually leading the resident to the edge..."

‘Sexually Harassed, Abused Over Caste’: AIIMS Doc Attempts Suicide

It added that the woman resident doctor also wrote to the Women's Grievance Cell, SC/ST Welfare Cell of AIIMS and national commissions for SCs and STs, but no appropriate action was taken.

Another resident doctor at AIIMS said:

“In the multiple letters, she wrote how one faculty member used to sexually harass her and take jibes at her for belonging to the Scheduled Caste.”

AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria told The Quint that the resident doctor had personally met him a week ago to discuss the issue. “I had met her, her husband and her brother and assured them that strict action will be taken on her complaints. Her husband had told me that she was satisfied with the response after meeting me.”

Dr. Guleria said, “Three inquiries were already being conducted - by the sexual harassment committee, the chief of the department and the SC/ST committee. The first two committees had already issued a showcause notice to the faculty member.”

“It could be that because of the lockdown and the COVID-19, the enquiries were not fast-tracked but I have asked the committees to expedite the process.”

‘The Friday Meeting’ Before the Suicide Attempt

On Friday, there was a meeting held by the internal committee. Soon after, the resident doctor took the drastic step. What pushed her to the edge?

Dr. Guleria said, “I have asked for the minutes of that meeting to know what actually transpired. I believe she was asked to produce her witnesses and other testimonies. I am trying to figure out what actually happened that triggered such an action.”

NCW, Delhi SC/ST Commission Take Cognisance, Demands Immediate Inquiry

Taking cognisance of the matter, the National Commission for Women has written to Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for an immediate inquiry and details of the action-taken report to be sent at the earliest to the Commission.

The NCW, in a statement, said it was concerned over the matter and “requests that an inquiry shall be done in the alleged harassment, and action be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future”.

Delhi SC/ST Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Monday urged Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to ensure stern action in the case.

"Cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes continue to increase. Nothing has changed under the BJP and Congress governments (at the Centre). There is no difference. Why are such cases not taken seriously?" the minister tweeted in Hindi.

(With inputs from PTI)

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