Islamabad: Members of the Young Doctors Association (YDA), in Pakistan’s Punjab province, were on strike on Saturday after a cleaner allegedly tried to rape a female medical officer in the emergency ward of a hospital.

The outpatient departments (OPDs) of major hospitals in the province were closed, as the junior doctors protested against the sexual assault attempt, which took place on Wednesday at the hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, a remote district in south Punjab.

Protesters demanded the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) and the passage of a doctors’ safety bill by the provincial assembly.

The strike was observed in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala and other cities.

Reports said the doctor was by herself in the room when the suspect tried to overpower her.

However she screamed to alert the security guards and managed to escape the ordeal unscathed.

Security guards at the hospital took the suspect into custody and handed him over to the police.

The Punjab government suspended the medical superintendent (MS) and principal of the hospital and constituted a three-member committee comprising senior professors from the Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur.

The committee was directed to complete its investigation and submit report within 24 hours.

However, junior doctors across the province were not ready to relent and vowed to keep up their boycott of the OPD until their demands were met.

“We need a safe working environment at the hospitals and in this regard the Punjab Assembly should pass a bill that would ensure safety, security and insurance of the doctors,” said a representative of the YDA.

A woman doctor in Rawalpindi, while requesting not to be named, told Gulf News that women doctors, nurses and female staff at government hospitals were routinely subjected to harassment, not only by their male colleagues — doctors and other workers — but also by patients’ attendants.

“Incidents of harassment, intimidation by those who accompany patients are on the rise and doctors, particularly female doctors are feeling quite insecure while working in government hospitals,” she said.

Later, YDA President Dr Amjad and Dr Shabbir Warraich led their colleagues and gathered outside the principal’s office. They chanted slogans against the hospital administration for their failure to provide safety to doctors.

Meanwhile the doctors’ strike caused problems for patients who had come from far-off places. Most of them had to return unattended.

Many patients in Rawalpindi’s hospitals who had come with various complaints said there was none to look after them.