When 12 female lab technicians from KEM hospital’s biochemistry department complained about their colleague Ashok Bhokare’s lewd comments and behaviour to their department head and hospital’s dean, he was served a transfer notice. Bhokare blatantly refused the transfer notice at first, but accepted it under pressure. He was transferred to the pathology department yesterday.
The technicians approached the dean and their biochemistry department head Dr Sucheta Dandekar regarding this issue three weeks ago, and it was taken up with the sexual harassment cell of the hospital. MiD DAY reported how the male colleague would pass lewd comments at them during work and also click their pictures without permission, (‘12 lab technicians sexually harassed by male colleague at KEM Hospital’, December 3).
Requesting anonymity, a senior doctor from the hospital said, “The technician was warned that if he continues to refuse the transfer issued to him by the authorities following this incident, stringent action would be taken against him. This will enable the sexual harassment committee to conduct the ongoing inquiry effectively.” “On an average, the sexual harassment committee of the hospital handles three harassment complaints from hospital staff and patients every year,” said a member of the hospital’s working committee. However, rarely is any stringent action taken against the perpetrators.
“In most cases after the complaint is filed, the person is transferred from their department. However, the inquiry process is long which involves recording statements of both parties. If proven guilty, the person against whom the complaint is filed can also face six months of suspension but that is rare,” said a doctor from the sexual harassment committee. When approached, Dr Shubhangi Parkar, acting dean of the hospital, said, “The lab technician has been issued a transfer but the inquiry regarding this case is still being conducted.”