The suspended sentence for the Struga-based gynaecologist, who spent years working “on the black market”, merely shows that women’s health in the country is “not worth a dime”. All competent institutions and the Doctor’s Chamber are accomplices.
3 February 2023 – The Gender Equality Platform has been outraged with the judgement pronounced by the Struga Basic Court imposing merely a suspended sentence to the gynaecologist Muhamed Asani, who had been illegally providing gynaecological services in an unregistered medical office in his own home between 2015 and 2020. Additionally, we have been appalled at the fact that the Court has failed to prohibit him from practicing profession, activity or duty, although such an option has been provided for in the Criminal Code.
Despite the findings of the State Sanitary and Health Inspectorate, who carried out a surprise inspection of his medical office two years ago, after which they brought criminal charges against him, and despite the strong reactions by the civil society organisations, the Doctor’s Chamber has not yet revoked the gynaecologist’s licence, among whose patients was Jeldz Veaposka. Let us be reminded, gynaecologist Asani has been monitoring her pregnancy illegally in his home-based medical office, and during childbirth in the Struga hospital, registered in the official records as a standard surgical procedure, he removed her uterus, a kidney and an ovary.
It is therefore with great revolt that we are finding both the Court and the Doctor’s Chamber to have sided with the gynaecologist in defending the illegal healthcare practice in the country. By suspending the punishment for his illegal practice in expectation of yet another criminal offence to be committed, they not only perpetuate the culture of impunity, but they unambiguously support the systemic negligence of women’s health – instead of ferociously fighting against it.
Access to illegal health services always entails huge risks to people’s health, which was only confirmed in Veaposka’s case, for which Asani is also facing criminal charges.
Therefore, the Gender Equality Platform demand that:
- If the first-instance judgement delivered in this way is appealed and the case is handed over to the second-instance court, this court should mandatorily order an additional measure of prohibiting Asani from practicing profession, activity or duty, for the longest period of time provided for in the Criminal Code;
- The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office should lodge an appeal and demand a stricter punishment (effective imprisonment);
- If the first-instance judgement delivered in this way is final, in their proceedings against the gynaecologist Muhamed Asani charged with removing three organs from Jeldz Veaposka during the Caesarean section, the next hearing of which has been scheduled for the 10th of March, in addition to the principal sentence, the court should mandatorily order an additional measure of prohibiting Asani from practicing profession, activity or duty;
- The Doctor’s Chamber should summon the courage and, following yesterday’s judgement, should finally revoke the gynaecologist’s licence;
- The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the competent inspectorate and institutions, should urgently make an onsite visit and get proactively involved in identifying and closing down the illegal medical offices, and take legal actions against doctors operating “on the black market”.
Women’s health must become a top priority for all institutions and for the Doctor’s Chamber: therefore, the cases of illegal medical offices which have the potential of becoming “butcheries” must not be repeated in the future!
Members of Gender Equality Platform:
- Tiiiit! Inc.
- Fight like a Girl (Bori se zenski)
- Women Civic Initiative – ANTICO
- Women’s Forum
- Association for Equal Opportunities SEMPER
- Association for local and rural development
- Association for Support of Marginalized Workers STAR-STAR
- Association for the Promotion of Gender Equality Akcija Zdruzenska
- Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women – ESE
- Association for Educational Development Ekvalis
- Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Skopje
- Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’
- Network for Protection against Discrimination
- National network to end violence against women and domestic violence
- National Council for Gender Equality
- Organization of Women of the City of Skopje (OWS)
- Organization of women of municipality of Sveti Nikole
- Women’s Organization “Kumanovka”
- Reactor – Research in Action
- Rural Coalition
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
- HERA – Health Education and Research Association
- HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje
- Humanitarian Association “Mother”
- Center for Research and Policy Making – CRPM