Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Harassment a scourge in medicine

ON THE JOB:A survey found that 80 percent of female physicians say they have been sexually harassed, while 63 percent of their male counterparts have been too

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

About 80 percent of female physicians and 63 percent of male physicians say they have been sexually harassed at work, but only 3 percent of them filed a formal complaint, according to the Medical Labors’ Working Conditions Reform Task Force.

Task force members revealed the results of their survey on gender friendliness in physicians’ workplaces in Taipei on Wednesday.

The survey was conducted by interviewing 600 physicians, who were also given questionnaires.

Respondents said their harassers included patients, patients’ family members and coworkers.

Although the Ministry of Health and Welfare has said that resident physicians should not work more than 80 hours a week, female physicians who work more than 80 hours per week were more likely to be sexually harassed or witness sexual harassment, task force executive committee member Wei Ruo-ting (魏若庭) said.

A total of 54.55 percent of female physicians said that they had been sexually harassed or witnessed sexual harassment from superiors at work, she said, adding that among them, the highest rates were experienced by interns and resident physicians (67.5 percent) and those in the surgical department (59.09 percent).

Wei said interns often train in the surgical department and some superiors take advantage of this to touch or harass them.

“I have seen male physicians directly touch a female intern’s thigh, hips and arms, and more serious cases include putting both arms around a female intern and hugging her from behind,” Taipei Doctors Union director Kuo Yu-ting (郭?婷) said.

“It chills the heart to hear that people in some departments intentionally arrange for female interns they are fond of to join their teams,” she said, adding that most young physicians act in unquestioning obedience to the orders of their superiors.

The survey showed that although the sexual harassment rates are high for both female and male physicians, only 3 percent of them filed a formal complaint, and while 8 percent of women filed a complaint, none of the men did, Wei said.

The survey showed that the top three reasons for not filing a complaint were: not having the time or wanting to make the effort (59.73 percent), thinking that filing a complaint would be useless (50.44 percent), and being concerned about privacy and confidentiality issues (41.59 percent).

In addition, 33.72 percent were worried that they would be punished for filing a complaint and 12.39 percent said they did not know how to file a complaint or ask for help, Wei said, adding that some male physicians said they were worried that filing a complaint would make them seem effeminate.

The group urged hospitals to make systems for filing sexual harassment complaints more accessible to medical practitioners, and to review sexual harassment prevention measures and physicians’ long working hours.

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