Statement regarding protest by nurses and women activists at Goa Sadan

April 5, 2015

by CENTRE FOR STRUGGLING WOMEN

Protest at Goa Sadan (Delhi) by nurses and women activists against Goa CM’s sexist remarks on struggling nurses

Nurses and women’s groups submit a petition demanding an apology from Goa CM.

Today, nurses from different hospitals in Delhi, nurses’ organizations like Indian Professional Nurses Association (IPNA) and All India Federation of ESI Hospitals, as well as activists of the women’s organization Centre for Struggling Women (CSW) gathered at Goa Sadan (Delhi) to protest against the sexist comment passed by Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar against struggling nurses. Earlier this week, when speaking to a delegation of nurses (who are on hunger strike for the past few days in Goa), the CM commented to the effect that the nurses should not sit in the sun and ruin their complexion and marriage prospects. This immediately led to much agitation and anger among the wider nursing community across the country.

At today’s protest, nurses and CSW activists raised slogans against the Goa CM and also held a protest meeting at the front gates of the Goa Sadan before submitting their memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister. The memorandum submitted seeks the following measures from the CM’s office as part of trust-building and serious addressal of nurses’ legitimate concerns: (i) Issuing of an apology since the CM’s recent statement normalizes the sexist attitude that generally prevails against working women; (ii) Addressing the issue of Goa’s struggling nurses in a time-bound, sincere manner; (iii) Removal of contractual employment in government hospitals in Goa and introduce regular employment; (iv) Enhancing the number of government-funded nursing colleges in the state; and (v) Stop to privatization of health services in the state.

At a time when thousands of nursing professionals are struggling to make ends meet, such sexism comes as a huge set-back to the profession and to working women as a whole. Such irresponsible comments by those is power reflects nothing but sheer insensitivity towards the hostile conditions in which the majority of nurses in this country work. That these highly skilled women professionals are being overworked across most hospitals and are underpaid as contractual staff nurses is, of course, of little concern to the Chief Minister. The CM’s sexist remark also shows that the ongoing hunger strike of the Goa nurses has not triggered a serious and mature response from him. Aware of the existing gender discrimination playing itself out in the job market yet ridden with an insensitive approach to working women, it is a shame that the Goa Chief Minister has taken it upon himself to ‘joke’ about, and therefore, to demean the highly skilled nature of work performed by nurses. The CM’s statement not only demeans the highly skilled nature of work performed by nurses but also pushes working women further into the clutches of patriarchal stereotypes around beauty, subdued roles for women, etc. The sexist remark is also objectionable given that the struggling nurses are raising an important issue pertaining to public health services such as lack of transparency in ambulance services in the state.

Nurses and other healthcare workers are a crucial part of hospitals, primary health centres and state health departments. However, most of the time, nurses and other female healthcare workers have to face many atrocities at the hands of hospital administrations, especially in terms of exploitative work, arm-twisting by managements of private hospitals/nursing homes/placement agencies, and even sexual harassment. Given this larger reality, today’s protest was called at Goa Sadan by angered nurses. Nurses and women activists at today’s protest strongly believe that the Goa CM’s remarks and irresponsible behaviour normalizes the sexist attitude that generally exists towards working women.

We request your esteemed newspaper/news agency to cover this important protest and to bring the exploitation of the nursing community to the limelight.

MAYA JOHN
Centre for Struggling Women (CSW)
Ph: 9350272637

SANTOSH M.
Ph: 8826745104