When we go into a hospital room in Newfoundland and Labrador, what do people think about?
When you finally get a bed after the nurses and doctors work tirelessly to get you there, do you think about how your hospital roommate may or may not sexually assault you?
A more probable thought that juts through people’s head is I wonder what’s wrong with me or did I leave the oven on before I got here?
It is a rare individual who sits in their hospital bed thinking, pondering, praying, whispering and hoping that the person next to them, who is also suffering from some ailment, is not going to rape them.
Last week, Denise Hayes, a volunteer at the sexual crisis centre in St. John’s, landed on CBC and claimed that having co-ed hospital rooms is “a violation of human rights at its most basic.”
When I hear human rights violation I think many things: the Holocaust, the systematic persecution and execution of a Muslim people in Kosovo, the Ugandan government giving anti-homosexual legislation as a Christmas gift, or things of that nature; sharing a room with someone who has different reproductive organs and presents themselves as a different gender than I do does not fit any description of a human rights violation.
A man can just as easily sexually assault another man as he can a woman; I am not a particularly large individual and, if the man sharing a room with me was so inclined, I would have a hard time defending myself against a sexual assault.
The number of men who are sexually assaulted is astounding, the fact that they are even more reluctant to come forward about it than women is a shame.
The sense of societal shame for men who are raped is a different creature entirely than that when it happens to a woman, though no more or less important.
To be raped as a man, a stigma of weakness and femininity plagues the victim, or to be perceived as being gay can destroy a victim’s life.
But it happens, and happens more than we hear about or see in the news.
To assume that because you are a woman, the man in the bed next to you in the hospital is going to rape you is absurd.
To assume that all men are rapists is absurd.
Being in a hospital room should not bring fear of sexual assault, but a hope of healing.
Beds are in short supply at any hospital, so I am thankful for the administration that is level-headed and not hyper-paranoid.
I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to get me in a bed when I am ill; and I am thankful that I am not ignorant enough to believe that I will be raped by every person I sit next to because of their reproductive systems.
director of external affairs