Being a nurse in Pakistan

Published: January 3, 2012

Nurses work shifts that last 12 to 24 hours. They perform numerous unpleasant procedures and even put their own lives at risk for the sake of their patients.

Many nurses say they are harassed by young men who come in as either patients or relatives of the patient. They are asked personal questions and are, often unable to perform their duties due to harassment. Asking a nurse for her phone number is a regular occurrence in the hospitals of Pakistan. Patients even ask them if they can photograph them, and sometimes take pictures while the nurse is not looking.

Under these conditions, many nurses have become resentful towards their line of work. They have vowed never to let their daughters pursue a similar professional path. This is especially alarming because doctors state that Pakistan is facing a severe shortage in terms of nursing staff.

On paper, nursing would seem like a job that would command widespread respect . However, sadly, this is not the case for nurses in Pakistan.

This video blog originally appeared here.

Maati TV

A community journalism website that aims to provide an alternative voice for people.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Vikram

    I thought in Islam men are not supposed to look at women or ask for phone number or take pictures. Whats going on here?Recommend

  • Imran M Alavi

    Please do not Judge Muslims by this.Recommend

  • Nazi

    Not only Patients , doctors and para medical staff also takes nurses for-granted for their timepass. Nursing had been the most respectful profession since centuries as they help you in your healing, but not now , not here, nurses are to be taken as sluts, everyone tries to get a closer look , a slight touch , a favor and it goes to extent .
    but on the other hand , (not everyone) some people are still there who do thi, who want to do this as they get gifts and money from patients and their relatives for providing favors , they are already not paid enough , so its other way round.
    and studies says, this emotional laboring job , leads to stress for Nurses.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    @Vikram – wake up buddy its 2012 !!Recommend

  • janan khan

    aoa…their is no question of relgion in it…yes but social values do matter in this regard, our society has lost these values in every sector of life and the same is about nursing profession,this is also a harsh fact that some of our unrses are involved in anti-values activities so thats why every nurse is considered to be among that group.We must work for a decent society at large not just for one profession.Recommend

  • bilal mahar

    @rizwan plz bhai ye 2012 ho ya 2050 hum muslim hain aur humain apny deen par qayim rehna chahye… Aur islam in sub cheezon ki ijazat nai deta. Recommend

  • Erum kabani

    dear friends ,
    i am by profession a nurse , and sorry to say that this vedio is just projecting the nurse as n for medication only . howere, we are doign even more then that and our profession is noble so please do not limit this profession to just medication . nurse is an advocatore, manager, critical thinker , logical and realistic . and i would recomment my son and daughert to be a nurse and make your emotions strong and i take this job very positive to know how to deal with any kind of clints . these chalenges are making us so versatlt to deal woth public out their
    thank youRecommend

  • Husnain Minawala

    Dear Writer,
    You guys are talking about nurse in Mardan not whole of Pakistan,Please change the title,Nurse are very much respected in Karachi,Islamabad and Lahore.By taking interview of nurses in Mardan how can you title it “Being a nurse in Pakistan”Recommend

  • Parvez

    In Pakistan, men in general treat women on general, badly. Some more so than others, like the nurse, the air-hostess, the working woman. Possibly it stems from the very restrictions placed by our society and culture with religious overtones that seriously need to be altered in order to allow positive progress. Recommend

  • Nomi

    absence of education has degraded the values of the overall society. Sad. The goverments to blame. They never invest in education because it won’t pay off in their tenure.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    This is true and shame for pakistani society,.Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Imran M Alavi

    “Please do not Judge Muslims by this.”

    Heard this countless times on various occasions from, it has almost become a cliche.
    One can’t form an opinion or lack of it about ‘Mangoes’ by studying about apples or oranges.

  • Vikram

    @Erum kabani:
    Do you work as a nurse in Pakistani hospital? In Western countries nurses are well respected and paid very well too.Recommend

  • Spugmay

    There is evidence of more severe physical harassment, abuse and even rape by doctors which is totally ignored in this article Recommend

  • TrueMuslim

    This is not true, only showing one side of story. Many nurses don’t dress properly. They keep eying patients to hook up for their money. Nothing to do with Islam. Don’t bring religion into it. In America nurses are raped by patiends with no consequences! By covering nurses properly Islam protects them from any harm if nurses don’t overreact.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @TrueMuslim: Says
    “Many nurses don’t dress properly. T…By covering nurses properly Islam protects them..” I thought Islam tells Muslim men to look away. Nursies being raped in US without any consequences is a big lie.Recommend

  • Hira

    Such a noble profession taunted in our country. Sigh.Recommend

  • Asiya

    I don’t think this article was mainly about men harassing them but the troubles they face in general and the men bothering them is a part of it. Secondly, there is absolutely nothing religion related in this article. However, the reason religion is brought up in such incidents is because this happened in Pakistan, where Islam is of utmost important. But sarcastic comments are really not necessary because we all know not all people under one banner, such as Islam, are good or perfect. This can be applied to any religion.
    Living in US, where nursing shortage is evident, it is very important to keep nurses happy and satisfied because it not only increases turnover rate, i.e costs but also discourages others from pursuing this career. It is entirely up to the government,to offer incentives for these overworked nurses and limiting the number of attendants at one time. This way the nurses can do their job, take care of their patients and be somewhat happy and satisfied with their careers. Recommend

  • Vikram

    In Islam men are supposed to lower their gaze when they see a woman and not ask for her phone number or address or take her picture. That is where the religion comes in.Recommend

  • Dante

    That doesn’t mean that all men would necessarily lower their gaze. Religion is one thing; following it is separate. Everyone has his or her own personal wishes and desires. This is just like law is one thing, and following it is completely different.Recommend

  • Conspiracies

    So, what does ‘lower your gaze’ mean? In Pakistani society, this seems to translate as:

    (a) Men can’t look at women
    (b) Women should dress modestly
    (c) That women are provocative

    Biologically, men can’t help but look at women, they’re their natural mates, so clearly this verse asks us to exercise mental control.

    The onus is on men to stop being provoked by women! Grow up! You’re adults, half of humankind are women.

    A religion is based on principles, not words. The principle behind the verse is to try and overlook a woman’s sexuality, to be respectful and courteous to women and stop treating them as sexual objects.

    It takes a lot of courage to go up to a nurse and ask her for her phone number, or take her picture while she’s looking away. It takes even more courage to not be bothered with what a woman is wearing and just ignore her body – and that’s the whole point.

    The day when a woman is respected whether she’s a Hijabi or not, and the day when men will treat them as equals, as platonic friends, or when a man is not judged on the basis of wearing a beard or how high his shalwar is above his ankles, that’s the day when Pakistani society will finally grow out of this childishness.

    This religious hypocrisy is eating us from within, we clearly missed the whole point of Islam, didn’t we, my Disco Maulvi friends? Recommend

  • Tariq Aziz

    @Rizwan: though vikram is right in demonstrating his very perception of Islam and their can be multiple factors counter-justifying the situation he is seeing currently being practiced by Muslims but at least 2012 can never be reason any way!!!!Recommend

  • Saleem

    I have always respected nurses more than the doctor and I am very sorry that these nurses feel otherwise though I understand their concerns and they are very valid. Thank you for highlighting this issue.

    @Erum kabani: Very thoughtful response.Recommend

  • M Abdullah

    Let me tell you something. Go visit a Government hospital. Contrary to the rules and regulations, you will find the wards are full of attendants. It is no different to being in a fish market. And then people wonder why there is such a high infection rate. Because it is a bazaar out there! And then you expect a Nurse to be able to work in that environment where men, yes men who have plenty of time on their hands, are sitting there around the patient, scanning the nurses more efficiently than an x-ray machine could ever do. And please, do not for one minute pretend that this society has respect for nurses. You know the reality.
    I salute our sisters, daughters and mothers who make ends meet for their families in such difficult economical times in a society where they are not given the respect that they deserve. Recommend

  • sherry

    you are right.Recommend