An ambulance assistant in the Malappuram district of Kerala has been arrested on charges of sexually harassing a 38-year-old woman, who is also a COVID-19 patient. The alleged crime took place when the female COVID-19 patient was being transported from a hospital to a scanning centre in an ambulance. The arrested person has been identified as Prashanth from Pullamanthole in Malappuram.
The Perinthalmanna police arrested the accused on May 15 after the woman informed her doctor about the incident, which took place on April 27. The woman, in her complaint to the Perinthalmanna police, said that as she was too weak following COVID-19-related complications and pneumonia, and was not able to lodge the complaint immediately. The accused has been arrested under sections 354A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Perimthalmanna police officials told TNM.
Police officials told IANS that the woman was assaulted while she was being taken from a hospital to a nearby scanning centre on the night of April 27. The attendant boarded the back compartment or the cabin of the ambulance, along with the patient. According to the complaint she lodged with the Pernthalmanna police, the woman said that he started sexually harassing her as soon as the vehicle left the hospital premises. The woman said she was too weak to resist his advances.
The woman, who is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Wandoor of Malappuram district, narrated the ordeal to the doctors, who then asked her to lodge a formal complaint with the police. When she later lodged the complaint, the police sprung into action and arrested the culprit.
The accused, according to the police, has confessed to his crime and is now under judicial custody.
This is not the first time that the state has witnessed such an incident. During the first wave of the pandemic, the driver of Keralaâ€™s 108 Kanivu, a free ambulance service network as part of the comprehensive trauma care system for government hospitals, was accused of raping a 19-year-old COVID-19 patient when she was being shifted to a first-line treatment centre. The incident took place in the Pathanamthitta districtâ€™s Aranmula. The police later arrested the ambulance driver, Noufal, based on the womanâ€™s complaint.