July 16, 2020

Sheikhupura hospital sealed for blackmailing women through videos recorded during childbirth

Sheikhupura, Punjab – In a recent incident of privacy violation, reports of a private hospital staff secretly recording childbirth videos, and using them to blackmail women have surfaced in Sheikhupura, Punjab.

The police raided the hospital after a video of the woman in labor went viral on the Internet. While the computers at the hospital were confiscated and the premises were sealed off, according to reports, the owner and staff of the hospital fled during the raid.

Whereas, on December 29, a nurse was arrested for making the video who further confessed of recording them to blackmail women and their families to extort money. The report was first registered with Sheikhupura police by a resident who, in a statement to the police, said that he has more than a dozen of such videos that the staff of the hospital recorded on the orders of the owners.

Reportedly, the owner of the hospital filed an FIR against this resident and termed the incident an ‘attempt to defame the hospital’.

This is not the first incident of its kind. In September 2019, videos of couples from a cinema in Lahore were leaked that sparked a national debate about the issue of privacy of citizens and transparency on behalf of the administration of the premises that install cameras to record individuals without their consent. Similar secretly recorded videos from changing rooms in shopping malls and hotels have also surfaced in the past.

Sadaf Khan, co-founder Media Matters for Democracy, says, “In the wake of such privacy violations, it becomes essential for authorities to evaluate how they define and uphold privacy on the regulatory level, and what legislations and mechanisms are in place to ensure that this right is granted to every citizen.” She further adds, “Incidents like the one in Sheikhupura and many others like this indicate that violation of privacy is very closely knitted with the experiences of abuse that women face every day, where even the natural process of childbirth is now being made a matter of honour for them, and ultimately a challenge. This incident should be taken as a sign for authorities to act efficiently, and swiftly.”

Written by

Hija is a Programs Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. She combines her experience in digital rights in Pakistan to lead digital rights and internet governance advocacy of MMfD. She tweets at @hijakamran

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