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How Can Nurses in Nigeria Deal With Sexual Harassment?

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For a profession so important in healthcare delivery, nurses worldwide are exposed to more social evils than can be ignored. The most commonly heard is sexual harassment. In Nigeria, it has become so common that it is now accepted as “part of the job”. A bad reputation for a career hailed as one of the best in Nigeria. Comb through this article to see others; This article shares some tips on how nurses in Nigeria can deal with sexual harassment.
The bulk of the work in combating sexual harassment rests in the implementation of policies that will deter the offender.

“Nurse you sef, you carry back oo”
“Can I hire you to go home with me? If I just rest my head on this ample endowment on your chest, I will be perfectly healed”
People need to know that sexual harassment goes beyond just touching a person inappropriately. Making suggestive remarks, sexual innuendos, and crude comments, have the same effect on the mind. They also count as sexual harassment.
Sharing her own encounter, Chioma said:
“His words made me feel exposed, vulnerable, dirty, and uncomfortable. I wanted to just hide my hips and never come to work with them again”.
However, we can only change the world one person at a time, and while laws have been implemented to protect you against sexual harassment, here’s what you can do if you ever find yourself in a compromising situation, while at work as a nurse.

1. Set Obvious Boundaries and Make Them known.

In the course of caregiving, nurses have the most intimate interactions with the patient, as opposed to the doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. Sometimes skin contact with the patient is necessary, and intrusion into your personal bubble may be unavoidable. Hence it is important that you allow only the level of touching that is required to get your job done. Let the patient know when they overstep boundaries, and their actions are no longer acceptable; even if the boundaries were breached by mistake. Only allow conversation in terrain that you are comfortable with, steer the conversation away from casual topics, and keep things professional. Be polite, but not overly friendly. It is perfectly okay to politely decline kind gestures if you feel that they could lead to more.

2. Be Perceptive.

Pay attention to body language and voice tones, so you can decipher when a patient has ulterior motives and caution them. Trust your gut, often times your subconscious can tell when something is wrong, and warn you ahead of time. Perception helps you tell mistakes apart from intentional acts, it is .

3. Make Firm Demands not Flexible Requests.

When a patient does or says something to make you uncomfortable, tell the patient to stop, and let them know that if he/she repeats such action in the same care session, you would leave. Make good on your threat, and leave if the act is repeated. While carrying out your duties in situations that can be easily compromised, give specific instructions. For example, sometimes a patient might need your help to get off, or into the bed. When you say, “please place your arm around me”, it gives room for the patient to provide an excuse of accessibility as the reason for touching you inappropriately. Say “please place your arm around my shoulders” or “please hold on to my arm for support” instead.

4. Raise Alarm

If a particular patient defaults again after your warning, report to the suitable hospital authority. Don’t continue to tolerate his inappropriate actions by yourself, the patient might make it a habit. A firm “stop” the first time, should put an end to any unacceptable behavior. By the second occurrence, please raise alarm and report to the adequate authorities so that such person can be properly cautioned.

5. Wear Your Work Ethics Like a Sleeve, Make No Exceptions.

Most complaints of sexual harassment that come from nurses are about patients. We cannot neglect the fact, however, that it can be done by anyone. It can be by hospital staff or even guests. Stay out of conversations that are not work-related, limit horseplay and meaningless banter with your colleagues and superiors, especially in front of patients. Don’t condone bad behavior in the name of “joking around” while at work, even from your friends. What you would not accept from one, do not accept from all. Everyone should be held to the same standards.

Sexual harassment is a problem that can not be overlooked. The rate of occurrence in offices and workplaces is fairly high. To reduce it, every workplace should have set rules and policies in place, that protect the staff from sexual harassment. Especially in professions that are considered more vulnerable, insight on how to protect oneself from sexual harassment can not be overemphasized. A big factor that can influence your experience with offenders, is your work attitude. Be professional in dressing and in conduct, and report any case to efficient authorities. I hope you find this helpful.

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Oputa Okwanuzor is a freelance writer skilled in the art of weaving words into stories for brand boost through copywriting, or make a soothing read using creative writing. In her free time, she loves to share personal development talks, fashion inspos and writing tricks on her blog.

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