The United Nations describes sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, attempted rape or sexual assault, deliberate touching, sexual looks, catcalls, turning work discussions to sexual innuendos and touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person.
Some Nigerian female health workers have described how their patients harass them for sex.
Also, they alleged that apart from their patients, relations of the people they treat, as well as their superior male officers and employers press them for sex.
A 35-year-old nurse working in a private facility described how unwanted solicitations for sex by her superior officers forced her out of job in two hospitals she worked with.
Nneka (surname withheld) told PUNCH HealthWise that she has had her fair share of sexual harassment and does not like discussing it.
“Working in a hospital as a female nurse is tough. You tend to get unwarranted requests from patients down to their relatives. The worst of them is the male colleagues you work with, most especially the older consultants.
“On a scale of 10, I will rate the prevalence of sexual harassment in the health sector on a scale of seven. They range from subtle advances to inappropriate touches, vulgar expressions and all,” she said.
Nnekasaid her first experience of such harassment came from a medical doctor at her first place of work.
“I didn’t find it funny. He would corner me at every opportunity despite my unequivocal refusal. This was followed by incessant and inappropriate brushing of chest and bum. I left the job in frustration.
“Even at my second job, I still got passes from both doctors and patients. Mercifully, my marriage has put a halt to the nonsense,” Nneka said.
Continuing, she said,“If you asked me, I’d say about 90 per cent of female caregivers have one story to tell. There’s no facility I have worked that a female colleague or me didn’t experience the problem,” she said.
The nurse also narrated a scenario that happened in her last clinic involving the relative of a patient who was bent on having a sexual relationship with her.
“A man once asked me to take up the responsibility of a home caregiver to care for his aged mother. After the home service, he insisted on driving me home. That was how the inappropriate touching began. I protested but he attempted to intimidate me because of his position in my workplace.
“I called his bluff and vowed to discontinue the home care service if he didn’t allow me to focus on my job.
“Eventually, I had to stop visiting the woman to avoid coming in contact with him,” she added.