- Sordid experiences women go through searching for pregnancy
By VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA and KATE HALIM
FOLLOWING Saturday Sun’s story, last week about a woman who was allegedly raped by her doctor, more women who had equally fallen victims of alleged abuse in the past have come out to recount their ordeals. Many of the women, identified in this report by their first names to protect their full identities, who had been traumatised by their experiences with family doctors and fertility doctors alike, narrated their heart-breaking experiences amidst tears and regret.
Remi narrated her timely escape from a doctor who wanted to take advantage of her in the past. She said that while she was still dating her husband, she became pregnant but they decided to abort the baby because they were not ready for the responsibilities then. The first doctor they consulted revealed that her body was stiff and that he could not terminate the pregnancy.
They eventually settled for a popular hospital at Orile Iganmu, Lagos where the doctor assured them that he would carry out the process. They paid in him in full for the procedure, but on the appointed day, he tried to penetrate her based on the excuse that he needed her body to be flexible enough to flush out the foetus.
‘’On the appointed day for the evacuation, I went with my then boyfriend, now my husband, to the hospital. I was invited to the theatre only for me to storm out minutes later because the doctor said that my body was very tight and the only way out was for him to rub a gel on his penis, penetrate me, so that he would be able to terminate my pregnancy’’, she said.
Naomi’s case was not different. She was molested by a gynaecologist, who works in one of the general hospitals in Lagos. Recounting her ordeal with an emotion-laden voice, she revealed that it took her two years to summon the courage to speak up and when she did, the doctor came begging.
‘’I suffered secondary infertility. My first child was nine years old at the time this gynaecologist used his fingers indiscriminately during a follicle tracking scan. I questioned him about the use of his hands instead of the transducer, but he told me to keep quiet that he was just trying to help me.’’
She became uncomfortable and threatened to scream, so he allowed her to go. Visibly shaken, she left the hospital and never went back. But she eventually shared with her husband what transpired between her and the gynaecologist after someone shared a similar story of an alleged molestation by the same doctor.
‘’He initially thought he could intimidate me when I came out to speak, when he observed that I refused to back down because I recorded our conversation without his knowledge, he started begging and also sent many people to beg on his behalf. We later settled the matter amicably after my husband begged me to drop it.’’
Kelechi has been married for four years and had problems conceiving. A friend directed to a gynaecologist in Egbeda area of Lagos and she almost got raped by him.
‘’I went into the doctor’s office and he told me to lie down for him to check my stomach. Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed my breasts and started fondling them. I screamed, slapped him and tried to get up, but he started struggling with me. My screams attracted his nurses who rushed into his office and met us struggling. That was when he released me.’’
Perpetual was nearly raped by her doctor, but the fear of stigma has kept her back from actually pursuing the case. She had visited a popular hospital in Lagos when she was having problems conceiving and the doctor was so unprofessional.
‘’The doctor inserted an instrument inside me and he was turning it in a gentle movement and looking at the screen. He later removed it and put it inside again, only that I didn’t know it wasn’t the instrument that entered. I closed my eyes because the procedure was a bit uncomfortable and didn’t know it was his penis that entered me the second time.’’
He continued with the same movement he made with the instrument and all the while she thought what was inside her was what he inserted before. She felt so bad. And overcome with shame for having gone through such an experience, she refused to visit any hospital again for years not minding her childless situation.
Nwaneka was also a victim of these unprofessional doctors. She visited a hospital in Ikeja, Lagos for some tests and a doctor touched her clitoris while performing examination.
‘’I didn’t think much of it until he looked at me in the eyes, smiled and he said some people’s clit are as fine as their face. At that point, I became very alert. I guess he must have noticed the change in my demeanour, he told me to get up.’’
For women doing all manner of fertility procedures, there is enough shame lying on that table and more so if it’s a painful procedure, many women distract themselves by closing their eyes. In Eno’s case, she wasn’t so lucky, as the doctor not only raped her, but got her pregnant. Her son is almost 12 years old and has no idea that he is a product of rape.
Recounting her experience was difficult because recently, the doctor had come begging and she was torn between letting her son knew what happened in the past and also facing her husband who had no idea that her supposed last born brother of her mother, is actually her son.
‘’He was the elder brother of my childhood friend. He was like a family member. Even my mother welcomed him into our home. I had a bout of malaria after my sixteenth birthday and was sent to the hospital where he works for treatment’’
Taking advantage of her ill health, her supposed family doctor abused his profession by having sex with her forcefully. Out of fear and stigmatisation, she kept the details of her rape to herself until her mother discovered she was pregnant months after.
She opened up to her mother, who took her straight to confront her abuser, but he denied everything. He even called her names for trying to smear his reputation as a doctor. He offered to abort the baby for free if they were interested to save her from being a public ridicule in their small town in Akwa Ibom State.
‘’I was more devastated after we met with him to tell him about my pregnancy. My mom insisted on me keeping the baby because of her Christian faith. I had my son and left him for my mother, while I came to Lagos to finish my secondary education. Today, he says he wants his son back. I am so angry and emotionally drained at the same time.’’
When Rita visited a fertility expert last year in Enugu for help, she had no idea what was in stock for her. The doctor had carried out tubal surgery and given her tablets to help her get pregnant and said she should contact him once she gets a positive pregnancy test, so as to identify the implantation site as she had high risk of ectopic pregnancy due to the surgery.
To her delight, she became pregnant months after. She immediately booked a scan with him when she started spotting blood and having some stomach pains. But when he began the scan, she noticed it took him ages to complete as he kept probing into her vagina with a probe.
‘’I could see on the screen he was counting my follicles. Anyway, he took the probe out and I didn’t know where his nurse went to at the time. All the way through, he seemed unable to concentrate and kept staring at my privates and his expressions indicated he was enjoying himself. Then he touched my clitoris with his hands and I went berserk.’’
Instead of him to be remorseful, he just touched himself down there as if to check something, and walked away as he looked at her up and down and winked. He was reluctant to go. Even after he informed her that she had an ectopic pregnancy, he was still looking for an opportunity to touch her body, but the timely entrance of one of the nurses into the examination room saved her lots of troubles.
‘’I began to remember things afterwards. I remember he was looking at my legs and privates and panting. I cannot remember where his other hand was. It all happened so fast. I remembered his facial expression as he was enjoying himself at my expense.’’
Feeling ashamed for being violated by someone she trusted so much, Rita still feels like a fool for letting him get away with his inappropriate behaviour. She is still angry with herself for not screaming at him to attract the attention of her sister waiting for her in the hall way.
‘’I was just so shocked and was not sure whether what I was seeing was right. I just did not know what was happening to me. I feel such a fool remembering this now. I completely trusted this guy but he let me down,” she added.
Patience was referred to a new gynaecologist for her fertility issues two years ago by her neighbour. During one of my follicle tracking sessions, he went overboard by using his fingers instead of the transducer.
‘’He used his fingers in a way that seemed he was attempting to arouse me. He stimulated my clitoris. He then began the internal examination. He inserted one finger inside me and made a fist with the other fingers.’’
Even after completing the session, he did not remove his finger. He was rocking his knuckles on the outside and pushing his finger deeper and harder inside of her. She yelled in pain and struggled to get up from the table. He was taken aback by her swiftness and helped her up and hurried her to dress up.
In her own case, Ronke Awe claimed that her doctor sedated and raped her when she was down with typhoid and malaria attack sometime in 2013. The 23-year old who was 20 when the incident happened said she told her mother who asked her to keep quiet and never talk about it in order not to prevent her from getting a man to marry in future. “I went to see a doctor after a week-long treatment of malaria and typhoid as indicated by the medical test. I decided to go to the hospital for a proper treatment. After all the necessary process of seeing the doctor, he asked that I be admitted in the hospital for few days. It was private a hospital. This happened in the night. When my younger sister who was taking care of me went home that night as the doctor had assured that I would be taken good care of, the doctor came in the night to give me an injection. Casually, I demanded to know the type of drug he was trying to administer on me, but he refused to disclose it, not knowing that it was a sedative. It was when I woke the next day I realised that something happened to me. When I told my mum, she advised me not to let anyone know about it”, she stated.
While Ronke fell into this unwholesome trap as a result of illness, Mary Akpan told of how a doctor tricked her and had canal knowledge of her. Ronke was married for five years without a child. After going for different tests to ascertain her fertility, she was advised by a friend to go and check the state of her fallopian tube. So, she went for the test which is called HSG. This is to establish whether her fallopian tube was blocked. Instead of using ink which is the normal instrument used for the test, the lab technician suggested that he uses his penis.
Another victim who pleaded to remain anonymous said: “I wish I was a lawyer, I would personally take up this case and ensure that the randy doctor is behind bar. They did the same thing to me and I could not speak out because I did not want to lose my husband, so I kept quiet. I actually visited a medical doctor in Ikotun, Lagos. It was my friend that referred me to him. She also had issues with conceiving and convinced me that it was the doctor that gave her solution. I started going there and the doctor gave me a tablet and before I knew what was happening, I lost control. He had sex with me and when I opened my eyes and discovered what he did, he started begging and even promised to drive away his wife and marry me. I was so ashamed of myself that I did not tell my friend what happened. I simply stopped going to that clinic. So for that woman to be bold, Nigerians and rights activists should come to her defense.”