In a shocking incident, which bears testimony to how insecure Indian capital city has become for foreign women, a 23-year-old Afghan woman was sexually assaulted at a leading New Delhi hospital.
The victim, who was attending to her mother at Max Hospital in Saket area of New Delhi, was sexually assaulted by a hospital employee while she was asleep next to her ailing mother within the hospital premises.
The accused, identified as 19-year-old Amar Singh, was a contractual housekeeping employee of the hospital. He was arrested and sent to judicial custody following the complaint filed by the woman, according to Delhi police.
The incident, which has evoked anger and outrage in Afghanistan, took place on July 24.
In her complaint, the young woman said she was sleeping on a couch next to her mother’s bed in the hospital ward when the accused forced himself on her and tried to touch her private parts.
In her statement, she said she went to sleep at 4 am after a female attendant advised her to rest. She woke up at 5 am and saw the accused touching her inappropriately.
“The woman raised an alarm and her sister sleeping next to her woke up. The two women tried to overpower him but he pushed them and tried to flee. The guards at the hospital, however, overpowered the man and called the police. He was arrested on the spot,” a police officer told media persons.
The victim had come to Delhi with her brother, sister-in-law and sister on July 18 to get her mother treated for asthma. They had booked a guesthouse in Jangpura.
According to media reports, the police have registered a case under sections 376C (rape by any member of the management or staff of a hospital with any woman in that hospital) and 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) against the hospital employee.
Under the new rape law in India that came into force following December 2012 gang-rape of a young girl in Delhi, the accused can face rigorous imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than five years but which may extend to 10 years.
In a statement, authorities at Max Hospital said the accused had been dismissed from services and the victim had returned to Kabul.
“We follow a zero tolerance policy on any sexual misconduct incident with our employees or patients and their families. We have a comprehensive induction policy for our on-rolls and contractual employees. We also train our employees on compassion and correct conduct,” said the statement.
“We are highly disturbed about this condemnable incident in the hospital by a contractual employee. He was immediately handed over to the police and terminated by his employer on our instruction. We actively worked and supported the police in their investigation. The victim was admitted to the hospital and provided all medical help to overcome the trauma. The victim along with other family members have since left for Afghanistan,” the statement added.
India has been a preferred choice for Afghans who seek advanced treatment for various issues because of low costs, less hassles and quality healthcare services.
The hospitals in New Delhi, including Max Hospital, witness tremendous rush of Afghan patients, which contributes immensely to medical tourism in India.
But, ignominious incidents like these can discourage Afghan patients from going to Indian hospitals, believes Rohullah Mohammadi, a Kabul resident.
“It is outrageous and must be painful for the family of the victim, but I am glad the hospital authorities swung into action and suspended the accused,” he said.
“If these incidents continue to happen, Afghan patients may choose not to go to India for medical treatment,” he added. (Afghan Zariza)