There is a longstanding aphorism that “ignorance of the law is not a defense.” But for one married, middle-aged Pakistani doctor living and practicing for years in London, that aphorism has been turned on its head, as it’s the very defense upon which his ability to still practice medicine, shockingly, rests.
44-year-old Imran Qureshi made the claim, even though he has practiced medicine in London for a long time, and even though, as several recent incidents have clearly demonstrated, other countries make no such allowances for foreigners on their soil, least of all a Middle Eastern, majority Muslim country such as Pakistan.
Despite Qureshi having physically molested a 21-year-old nursing student against her will in June 2015 at the Trafford General Hospital in Manchester – a student who was, by the way, herself a Muslim – a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in the same British city this week determined that the doctor can continue to practice medicine.
The father of two claimed he had simply made a “misjudgment,” and blamed the “misunderstanding” on different cultural norms, a claim that, even if idiotic and despicable, might have held a tad more water if the woman he had assaulted were not of the same culture that he is.
Qureshi had grabbed the breast of the nursing student after backing her into a wall in a lunchroom, causing her great distress and leaving her unable to sleep and fearing male doctors. The lack of sleep even impacted her ability to study and thus, to advance in her own nursing career.
The doctor claimed he perceived the unnamed woman to be “sexually available” because he claimed she’d had boyfriends, a claim that is neither here nor there nor is even proven to be true, given her own religious beliefs.
The Tribunal committee originally had issued Qureshi a 12-month suspension from his medical practice but stopped short of forbidding him to ever practice medicine again. This, despite the student, known only as Miss A, telling the Tribunal that she was now “shaken up and distraught” and felt uneasy around her male counterparts at the hospital.
The doctor had been made to sign in as a sexual offender in June 2016, following the incident, a cloud that will hang over him for five years after being convicted of sexual assault by a jury. He was also ordered to perform 12 months of community service, although there is no word on the nature of that service and if it revolved around becoming more aware of correct behavior towards women per se.
Qureshi lost an appeal of his conviction originally, but the Medical Tribunal this week overrode that appeals rejection, and said the doctor no longer needed to observe the 12-month suspension, as he had issued a “deep-hearted apology” to Miss A. At the same time, the doctor minimized the entire episode by referring to it as a “moment of madness and short, brief touching” through his lawyer.
The turnaround is especially shocking as moguls and magnates around the world have been publicly disgraced for the past few months, beginning with the end for Hollywood kingpin producer Harvey Weinstein, and coming down on US Senator from Minnesota Al Franken most recently for a lascivious photo of unwanted advances against a model and show host taken on a USO tour 10 years ago in Afghanistan.
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