Co-ed hospital beds and assaults

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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.


Noah Davis-Power

director of external affairs


Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Kosovo

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Recent comments

  • Ben Turpin
    June 14, 2013 - 20:40

    I agree, co-ed hospital rooms are not “a violation of human rights at its most basic.” This is hyperbole, but I can appreciate the sentiment of the quote. These uncozy quarters may be in violation of cultural mores (for the purpose of maximizing resources), the expectations of modest citizens, and just plain awkward in many cases. In fact, there are no co-ed rooms, just the policy to allow management to judge when a co-op opportunity can be enacted, as necessary, with consent. If the occupants of the room were required to sleep in the same bed, with no heat, like in the lumber camps of the 1930s, then maybe there would be a case for rights violation. I see no other quote from Hayes about sexual assault and/or rape, yet the letter begins and ends with it. How do you justify jumping from privacy to rape? "I am not ignorant enough to believe that I will be raped by every person I sit next to because of their reproductive systems." Yet you seem to be ignorant enough to believe than others are that ignorant, solely because they are contrary to this ad hoc co-ed policy. Just come out of the water-closet and overtly state your case for co-ed, genderless public restrooms already. Why even bring Hayes into your argument, let alone hypothetically ravishing us with your own feelings and conclusions?

  • NowIsee
    June 14, 2013 - 20:09

    I have to say that none of this made any sense to me at all. How are you a director of anything if you cannot write a 2 minute post and stay on topic? I weep for our future!

  • Florence Nightingale
    June 14, 2013 - 09:42

    Huh???? How did we get from a shortage of hospital beds to lesbian gay rights? Now that St. Clare's has finally finished its new ER entrance, I understand their next project is to double room occupancy with the use of bunk beds.

  • Colin Burke
    June 14, 2013 - 09:27

    "The number of men who are sexually assaulted is astounding." That sounds like either a tribute to the aggressivenss and physical prowess of the human female or an incredible slander on all those gays whom I had always believed to be above reproach, or else a lot of highly experimental straight men are wrongly presuming consent: did the writer actually read what he wrote?