Male gynaecologists are being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq as they are accused of invading the privacy of women. Women’s NGOs have raised concerns as there are few women gynaecologists in the country and their male counterparts are scared to continue working.
“Because of the extremists’ religious views, doctors are scared to continue with their work and the number of women gynaecologists is very low and cannot meet the demand,” said Mayada Zuhair, spokeswoman for the Women’ Rights Association (WRA).
“Extremists say that [male] doctors are not allowed to see the private parts of women and two male doctors were reportedly killed last week after leaving their clinics. A message was left near their bodies saying that was the end for any doctor who insists in invading the privacy of Muslim women,” Mayada added.
An Iraqi Medical Association (IMA) spokesman, Walid Rafi, told IRIN it knew of at least 22 male gynaecologists who had been sent threatening letters.
Yasser Issam, a gynaecologist in Baghdad, said that since 20 October there had been two attempts on his life and he had received a letter asking him to stop treating women in his clinic as he was offending the privacy of Muslim women.
“I didn’t have a choice. I preferred to leave my job altogether with two other colleagues who were in the same situation. We left the clinic in the hands of two female colleagues who later said they could not cope with the demand and have started to turn down patients,” Issam said.
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