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Rape allegations rock PIMS

In this March 2, 2015 photo, Klara Balogova is silhouetted against a window at a Roma settlement near Kralovsky Chlmec, Slovakia. Balogova was 18, penniless and pregnant when she rode thousands of miles from Slovakia to England to marry a man she had never met. Each year, dozens of women from the poorer corners of eastern Europe are lured to travel to western Europe for sham marriages with men who pay large sums because they want to live, work or claim benefits more easily in their chosen country and move freely within Europe. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) was rocked by another scandal on Monday, when it emerged that a 20-year-old paralysed woman – who was being treated at the hospital’s surgical intensive care unit – was allegedly raped by a staff member.

But while a case has been registered, with the Prime Minister’s Inspection Team overseeing matters, police have accused the hospital of facilitating the accused suspect’s escape.

Strangely, the victim’s father told the media on Monday evening that the whole thing was a “misunderstanding” and that he did not want to pursue the case. However, police maintain that his unwillingness would have no bearing on the case, since the original complainant is the Pims administration.

The 20-year-old victim was said to be suffering from Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare immune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body’s peripheral nervous system. The disease also affects the spinal cord and can leave patients paralysed.

Pims Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told reporters that the patient’s father had submitted an application on Monday alleging that a male nurse had raped his daughter on Saturday night.

“The administrator received the application and then a meeting was held with police officials, which decided to form a committee to investigate the issue, after which a complaint will be sent to the police. The committee is headed by Dr Abid Farooqi and includes Dr Rauf Niazi and Dr Shazia Farooqi,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the nurse in question has been suspended,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Akram said that the suspect, a 22-year-old male nurse from Shakrial, had been working at Pims for two years. He said the patient, who is suffering a great deal due to her paralysis, told her mother about the alleged rape, after which her father filed the application.

l Male nurse accused of raping paralysed patient in ICU l Victim’s father moves application, later says wants to withdraw the case l Police say investigation will continue regardless, claim suspect has a history of such behaviour l Pims admin accused of incurring delays that allowed suspect to escape

“The incident has become a matter of embarrassment for the whole medical community. Even if the victim’s father decides to forgive the suspect, we will not forgive him and will pursue the case to a logical conclusion. That is why we have also initiated departmental and criminal inquiries,” he said.

He also claimed that as a result of the unfortunate incident, a new SOP had been developed whereby no male nurse could even touch a woman admitted to the hospital. In the case of paralysed or semiconscious patients, treatment would only be given in the presence of an attendant, he said.

The PM’s Inspection Team, headed by Col Saifuddin also visited Pims and collected information about the incident, saying he had to report to the PM’s Office.

The victim was also subjected to medical examinations to establish whether or not she had been sexually assaulted. Dr Akram told Dawn that while the initial examination had proven inconclusive, samples had been taken and sent for testing.

The victim’s father, a resident of Swabi, later told the media that the matter was a simple misunderstanding. “I don’t want to pursue the case anymore and have informed the police of my intention to withdraw the application,” he said.

However, Karachi Company SHO Inspector Mubarak Ali maintained that they would pursue the investigation on the Pims complaint and all necessary steps would be taken to ensure justice for the victim.

Supreme Court lawyer Riasat Ali Azad, who specialises in criminal cases, told Dawn that though all the criminal cases are considered crimes against the state, the victim’s statement carries the most weight.

“Even if her father or the Pims administration wanted to withdraw the application, the statement of the victim will still be recorded. However, the law does give the victim the right to forgive the accused,” he said.

Munawer Azeem adds: Police told Dawn on Monday night that a case had been registered against the accused paramedic, but also blamed the Pims administration for allowing him to escape.

He also claimed that the man was earlier booked by Margalla police in 2014 over a similar charge. “He was accused of raping a girl at his aunt’s house in Sector G-8/2. However, we were later informed that the issue had been settled between the two parties,” the official said, adding that now, police were also seeking additional details and documents of the settlement in that case.

But an official from Karachi Company police station told Dawn that they got word of the incident when the media began to report it. “When we reached the scene, it was discovered that the administration had initially received the complaint but had not informed the police.”

He also said that being a criminal offence and not a mere disciplinary matter, the hospital did not have the authority to investigate it on its own.

However, talking to Dawn, Dr Javed Akram denied the accusation that the Pims administration allowed the suspect to get away, saying that it was in the hospital’s best interest that he be found and questioned. -Dawn


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