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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sexual harassment complaints spark conversation on victim blaming


Qatar’s interior ministry has responded to the testimonies from victims of the accused.

Victim blaming has emerged as a topic of discussion in recent weeks after several women took to social media to reveal alleged sexual harassment they faced at a private health centre in Qatar.

Women shared horrifying testimonies from appointments with a doctor at Advance Medical Clinic, recounting invasive incidents in which their personal space was violated by the dermatologist who touched their private parts with consent.

Others said they were targeted with verbal harassment by the physician.

“I went to him because of an outbreak all over my face and was upset about it. He later said ‘let me check your entire body and your breasts, I’m sure there is acne there too’. I insisted that I don’t have acne anywhere else other than my face,” said one victim.

After numerous testimonies were shared online, the women were able to identify the centre and culprit. While several complaints were reported in the past, the women claim the clinic failed to address the issue until their plight went viral online.

In a statement, Advance Medical Clinic confirmed they had dismissed Moudad El-Amatouri and “referred him for investigation”, noting the results will be publicly disclosed.

One woman said that the doctor had told her friend to visit him again for a “free checkup” only to be verbally harassed by him.

The women were easily able to identify the centre and the harasser after opening up about their experiences online, realising they had faced similar incidents at the clinic with the same doctor.

Qatar’s ministry of interior confirmed authorities are following up on this incident in accordance with the law.

“The Ministry of Interior affirms its full concern for the security and safety of society and its members,” added the statement.


A wider conversation

While many defended the victims, others directed the blame towards them for going to a male doctor on their own volition, claiming the offender was “still human” regardless of his occupation and thus justifying his actions.

This sparked a conversation on victim blaming, a common occurrence in any case around the world that involves sexual harassment and assault.

“I realised that there are some who are blaming the victim in their tweets. The victim blaming culture further enables the harasser to continue his deviant behaviour. By blaming the victim, you indirectly legitimise this behaviour even if you do not intend to do so,” tweeted Qatari columnist and writer Reem Al-Harmi.

Read also: Is gender equality and youth development in your New Year’s resolution?

Al-Harmi added that harassers and assailants are often people of a high position, from “an official, manager, to a university professor”.

“I hope that no woman who gets harassed remains silent, even if it is verbal. The law is on her side and will do her justice, and the relevant institutions will act to preserve the privacy of these issues,” she also said.

The public has called on authorities to take stricter measures on reported complaints of sexual harassment cases, urging swifter action to tackle the issues.

Others have called on victims to speak up about such offences without fearing a reaction from society.

“Do not be afraid of [the stigma], you have the right to defend yourself, even if your family did not allow you to do so, call and talk. Harassment leaves you with psychological trauma, and you will regret it if the years passed and you did not fight for your rights,” said one Twitter user.

Doha News has contacted the Government Communications Office which has confirmed there are no updates on the case thus far. 

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