Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is deeply anguished to learn that Jacqueline, a dalit nurse at CSI Hospital in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu was subject to such abuse by the hospital’s director that led Jacqueline to attempt to commit suicide. Both Jacqueline and her husband Solomon (who is also a staff at the hospital) were badly abused before the whole hospital using caste derogatory language by the Director who also threatened to fire them from their jobs. The suicide note written by Jacqueline clearly identifies Dr. Brinda Nirmal, Director of CSI Hospital, as the person responsible for provoking her to take this extreme step.
Dr. Brinda Nirmal, the director of the hospital who belongs to a dominant caste has been routinely exerting caste hegemony over the dalit staff members including nurses, lab technicians, drivers, gardeners, ward boys, security personnel, sweepers etc. Overt and covert caste oppression has been the practice at this CSI Hospital for the past three years, ever since Dr, Nirmal took charge as director. The Dalits comprise approximately 90% of the staff in this hospital have faced constant harassment, verbal abuse, physical intimidation from the director based on their caste. With such indignities heaped on them daily, their mental agony has been immense.
Dalit employees have been struggling against the unfair and arbitrary actions of the director. They include arbitrary fines and penalties collected from their salaries as well as suspensions and transfers of protesting staff to remote places. The director has also physically and forcibly restrained Dalit staff members from entering their workplace. She has terminated several members without following due procedures. She remains unwilling to consider employees demands for better working conditions and continues to exhibit casteist arrogance.
This kind of daily humiliation has created a deep sense of unrest amongst the employees who have protested against her on several occasions. The Director has failed to respect the compromise brought about by the intervention of district administration in April 2012. Instead, she has chosen to take vindictive action against the staff members who protested against her abusive and caste derogatory behavior. Despite laws to prevent caste based atrocities, the police are yet to file a case against her.
WSS strongly condemns this abusive casteist conduct of the Director. We also condemn the lack of action on part of the police against this Director despite Jacqueline suicide note and the fact that several complaints have been lodged against her by the hospital staff. We believe that Dr. Nirmal’s persistent use of ‘caste’ as a method of subordination and oppression of working people makes her unfit to be a Director of this hospital. WSS therefore, join the people in demanding that the police and hospital management take the following immediate redressal measures:
- Book Dr. Brinda Nirmal, Director of CSI Hospital for attempt to abet the commitment of suicide (Section 306 of IPC) and under the SC / ST Atrocities Act immediately.
- Remove Dr. Brinda Nirmal from the post of Director of CSI Hospital Kancheepuram immediately.
- Ensure that Dr. Brinda Nirmal tenders an apology to the staff for her casteist and vindictive actions.
- Form a committee including representatives from both staff and management side immediately to redress the grievances of the staff.
- Reinstate all the employees whose services have been terminated, cancel all vindictive transfer orders issued by the director and refund the entire amount of fines and penalties deducted from the salary of the staff
- Refund the entire medical expenses incurred by Jacqueline.
- Revoke the suspension of the seven employees made on false charges immediately.
Kalpana Mehta, Rinchin, Geeta Charusivam
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women by any perpetrator (s).